Jun 20, 2011

Streicher und Sohn - Gerrit Zitterbart and others

Streicher und Sohn - Gerrit Zitterbart and others

Some informations and surroundings about the downstriking "Nanette Streicher und Sohn" grands;
surely one of the most expensive grands about 1825 and surely the state of art then.
As the strings are running the full length of the instrument until under the keys this type of instrument has remarcably longer strings than a conventional grand of similar length. 

Apart of the dimension theoretically it is much better to knock the hammer onto the string pushing it to the soundboard than hitting the string from underneath lifting it ...
Practically this mechanism was too expensive to be sold numerously but the sound still is incomparable.

The downstriking viennese action works with 5-6 mm way of the keys, a completely different feeling, but I doubt I can describe it properly by words.
We have to consider these instruments travelled by coach to their most aristocratic customers.
In case you can provide any information about previous or actual owners or locations or in case you know further instruments please send a Mail
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On 10. January 2009 Gisela informed me on a friends birthday-feast she had been in a concert in Bielefeld at Villa Hülsmann where was played a Streicher-grand.

I asked whether she were sure, as I did not know such Instrument in Bielefeld.

She insisted, Streicher und Sohn indeed, played by Gerrit Zitterbart.

I replied: "That Gerrit Zitterbart from Göttingen?"

- - -

The next day I was at Villa Huelsmann to see that instrument, could hardly trust my eyes and could purchase at least the famous CD of Gerrit Zitterbart, playing Schubert D 960 Sonata on this very grand.

Just half a year before I unsuccessfully tried to contact Mr. Zitterbart as I had been informed he were a specialist for historic performance ... and as he teaches at Hannocer and I had a serious question about a square piano from Bornemann, Hannover, I searched for information trying to ask him.

But things came different, when I was at Kloster (monastery) Michaelstein near Blankenburg, visiting the piano collection there a saturday-afternoon.
Somebody came in and freely tested a piano there, another too, and so on and I kept in background for not disturbing him as I guessed he were as frightened as me to touch the instruments ...

Finally I watched closer and had some idea of deja vue and asked after introducing me: "Are you Mr. Zitterbart?" He replied: "Yes".

I mentioned my desire for information about Bornemann and asked happily what he were doing this afternoon at Blankenburg.

A concert in the evening was to be given and so he was there to test the instrument before (or to warm up) and before this he took advantage of the opportunity to visit the collection.

He encouraged me to come with him while he were testing the instrument and this way I had evenings concert in the afternoon, but twice and with opportunity to ask ...

I told him about the missed concert in January and it was sure I were present next occasion.

So on  2nd January 2010 I was able to listen to the Streicher und Sohn grand in Bielefeld the first time in "nature" ...
in the famous recording of Burkhard Scheibe

On this occasion I was kindly permitted to come sooner and could hear not only the concert partly in advance, but the most charming moments where when Gerrit Zitterbart and Burkhard Scheibe happily discussed the performance of the Streicher-grand, while trying the instrument alternating. I will ask once more whether I probably may put in probably here this very dialogue, but I perfectly understand professional pianists aren't that keen on everybody hears them in the internet but doesn't buy their CD's.
Let me use this occasion to remind you there are CD's for sale directly..
I purchased most of them and feel happy to hear them quite often.. Just after the Schubert D 960 - in two versions, one the famous Streicher and the other version a Bösendorfer Imperial - I love most the Beethoven Frühlingssonate (spring sonata) and I could hardly tell you which version I like better; it depends on the mood and I alternate often, listening to them over and over again ...

There is still the recording of the whole concert of 2.1.2010 at last wave Studio and I seriously hope to be able to buy it as a film, not only as a CD one day. It is much more educative to have visibility to the whole situation. I mediate on how I could corrupt Burkhard Scheibe to do that job to create this masterpiece similar to that excellent post on youtube he gave us ...

Gerrit Zitterbart introduces his concerts with fascinating explanations about the instrument and the composer and informed his public there were about six grands of that type of Streicher still existent worldwide,
the whereabouts you may research on Tastenwiki, that special mechanism is called "oberschlägig" there ...

Sure, next year on 2.1.2011 I was present again, this time Gerrit Zitterbart played my beloved D960 from Franz Schubert.
This Grand was at Castle Bückeburg until about 1955,when it was bought and given to the city of Bielefeld as a gift; it was restored in Swiss and found its place at Museum Hülsmann after several years of storage in the concert hall of Bielefeld, the Oetkerhalle.


In the internet were traces about another exemplar, built 1825 with number 2288 of this very type of Streicher-grand, at Piano Salon Christophori , Berlin. 

After some contacts it was clear I had to go there; I feel ashamed I did not yet. At least there is some information visible here. Piano Salon Christophory collects and restores finest historic grands and performs concerts in the workshop by excellent pianist almost weekly. Christoph Schreiber and his Salon might will become s several post so here is the link to the Homepage of the Salon Chrostophori only.


A futher exemplar, Streicher No. 1980 is also well documented in Sweden in the Musikmuseet_Stockholm
Spring 2011 returning from Italy I passed Bad Berleburg, the location of another Streicher und Sohn grand, identical to that one at Bielefeld, but in worse condition. Unfortenately the preparations of the wedding (which took part this weekend, in June) of princess Nathalie were intense so nobody could give me opportunity to watch the instrument my way. I recected the opportunity of a normal public visit as I guess ist might be shocking when a visitor sinks under the instrument, watching underneath and so on ...
But as I researched in the internet in advance, I knew the sight I missed as an ordinary visitor.
Sight to the Streicher und Sohn grand at Bad Berleburg, Germany, foto from this link
I would like to express my sinceerest congratulations to the bridal couple on occasion and will announce in advance my next visit at Berleburg.

During researching again for this text appeared further information, there is another exemplar in North America. in the National Music Museum, South Dacota on the campus of the University of South Dacota, Vermillion.

here is the enclosed text:

NMM 10298. Grand piano by Nannette Streicher und Sohn, Vienna, 1829. Serial nos. 2316 (cumulative) and 136 (of this model). CC-f4 (6+ octaves). Three pedals: una corda, due corde, dampers. Downstriking action, patented by Johann Baptist Streicher in 1823. Purchase funds gift of Tom and Cindy Lillibridge, Bonesteel, South Dakota, 2003.

See the complete list of instruments at the university of South Dacota here

and see here the full description of that very Streicher und Sohn

- See the full article following here. This quotoation is only destinated for historic research.-

Images from the Study-Storage Collections

Grand Piano by Nannette Streicher and Son, Vienna, 1829

NMM 10298. Grand piano by Nannette Streicher und Sohn, Vienna, 1829. This immaculately preserved grand piano represents a glorious moment in the history of instrument making. When J. A. Stein died in 1792, his workshop was kept in operation by his daughter, Nannette (1769-1833), and her brother, Matthäus Andreas (1776-1842), known as André. In 1794 the siblings moved the business from provincial Augsburg to Vienna, where they worked together until 1802, when André set up his own workshop. Nannette, who in the meantime had married the pianist and composer, J. A. Streicher, is an extremely rare historical instance of a woman visibly in charge of a major business. Moreover, it is virtually certain that her role was not confined to the front office. She was actively engaged in the design and musical finishing of the instruments bearing her name.

NMM 10298. Grand piano by Nannette Streicher und Sohn, Vienna, 1829.

Downstriking action of grand piano by Nannette Streicher und Sohn, Vienna, 1829.

A radically redesigned new model with a downstriking action, of which the Museum's example is one of the earliest in existence and undoubtedly the best preserved, it was patented in 1823 by Johann Baptist Streicher (1796-1871), Nannette's son, the same year that he joined the firm as a partner. The Streichers maintained a long and cordial association with Beethoven, and the downstriking model, expensive to produce, was the top of their line.

The Streicher firm was one of the two or three most eminent in Vienna, arguably even the industry leader among the scores of piano makers, including A. M. Thÿm, who were active in the Imperial and musical capital.

Side view of grand piano by Nannette Streicher und Sohn, Vienna, 1829.

Embossed brass plate bearing maker's name.

Embossed brass plate bearing both the maker's married (Streicher) and maiden (Stein) names.

Label inside grand piano by Nannette Streicher und Sohn, Vienna, 1829.

Maker's label. Purchase funds gift of Tom and Cindy Lillibridge, Bonesteel, South Dakota, 2003.

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National Music Museum
The University of South Dakota
414 East Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069

©National Music Museum, 2003-2007



- Yokohama (Courtesy: Gerrit Zitterbart)


- One Exemplar should be at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg. (Courtesy Gerrit Zitterbart)
   English site of the  Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg


- One Exemplar should be at New York (Courtesy Gerrit Zittebrbart)

- Ludwig Maximilians Universität München (Munich)

Copyright Robert A. Brown
 - this and further fotos of this exemplar you may find here on the site of Robert A. Brown. It is exemplar No. 1977/19 and I would like to quote his description: "Veneered in exotic walnut. Compass: FF - f4. Three pedals (from left to right): una corda, due corde, damperlifter. This instrument belongs to the Department of Musicology, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich. Restored in 2002"


Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Baptist Streicher, 1840

as the above link is not working properly, following here I post the original text from the  Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien:, hoping to be permitted to do so.

At least here I try to post their direct Link once again:

Johann Baptist Streichers (1796-1871) Klavierfabrik war bis zu ihrer Auflösung im Jahr 1896 zusammen mit der Firma Bösendorfer die bedeutendste im

Hammerflügel mit oberschlägiger Mechanik

Johann Baptist Streicher | 1840
Johann Baptist Streichers (1796-1871) Klavierfabrik war bis zu ihrer Auflösung im Jahr 1896 zusammen mit der Firma Bösendorfer die bedeutendste im österreichischen Raum. Die Grundlage dafür waren nicht zuletzt Streichers großes technisches Verständnis und sein Streben nach Perfektion. Er nahm zahlreiche Verbesserungen vor, die teilweise nur Details, teilweise aber auch grundlegende Konzepte betrafen. So erkannte er beispielsweise, dass der Hammeranschlag von oben eine bessere Übertragung der Energie von der Saite auf den Resonanzboden bewirkt. Er entwickelte die so genannte oberschlägige Mechanik, die nach diesem Prinzip funktioniert. Die klanglichen Ergebnisse gaben ihm zwar Recht, die Wartung der Mechanik dieses Typs und der Stimmvorgang erwiesen sich aber als zu kompliziert.

Julius Schlosser: Die Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente. Beschreibendes Verzeichnis, Wien 1920.
Victor Luithlen: Kunsthistorisches Museum. Katalog der Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente. Teil 1. Saitenklaviere, Wien 1966.
Rudolf Hopfner: Meisterwerke der Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, Wien 2004.

Some research (links)

The article about Nannette Streicher appeared in Continuo, an early music magazine which has ceased publication, in May and June 1986. © Margaret Hood 1998

An article in german about research on the used wood. 

Article in german about the instruments of Germanisches Nationalmuseum Nürnberg

An article on the Streicher Family from Piano An Enzyclopedia

The piano (Google books)

German Piano Collections (article)

research on the word "hammerklavier" on domenica.net

Makers of the Piano: 1820-1860 - Google Bücher-Ergebnisseite

Piano actions - OoCities

Performance practice: a dictionary-guide for musicians - Google Bücher-

The Check in Some Early Pianos and the Development of Piano

Throughout the nineteenth century the Streicher family was one of the most ... Johann Baptist PATENTED a workable downstriking action (1823) in which the ...

  Grand piano with downstriking action, Johann Baptist Streicher, Vienna, 1837. (No. 2991). Compass CC-g"". 1823 invented downstriking Viennese action. ...

many thanks to all persons who have contributed somehow to compose this puzzle

To be continued

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