August Förster

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An artist performing on a August Förster piano in 2015

August Förster is a piano manufacturing company (also rendered "Foerster," occasionally "Forster," officially "August Förster GmbH Kunsthandwerklicher Flügel-und-Pianobau") that currently has a staff of 40 employees and produces around 120 grand pianos and 150 uprights per year.


On April 1, 1859, August Förster opened a small piano workshop in Löbau, Germany, expanding to a factory on Löbau’s Jahn Street in 1862.[1][2] Still in use today, this facility has been enlarged and modernized by the Förster family and remains the exclusive site for the manufacture of the original August Förster piano.

In 1897, Caesar Förster succeeded his father August as manager of the company, and opened a second factory in Georgswalde (Jiříkov), Bohemia (later Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic) in 1900.[1][2]

The owner Franz Cäsar Förster was awarded an imperial and royal warrant of appointment to the court of Austria-Hungary.[3]

Vierling-Förster piano

In 1937 the company manufactured one of the first electric pianos, the “Vierling-Förster” piano, developed by Oskar Vierling at the Heinrich Institute for Oscillation Research at the Technical University of Berlin using electromagnetic pickups.[4][5]

In 1945 the factory in Georgswalde was nationalized.[1] Under new state-sanctioned management many pianos of good quality were produced, but since 1945 the Czech-made pianos have had no connection or relationship to the German August Förster piano. This "other" August Förster is currently produced in the Czech Republic by the Petrof (also rendered "Petroff," "Petrov") Piano Company, and sold in Canada and certain European countries.

In 1972, the final phase of East German nationalization transformed the company into the state-owned "VEB Fluegel-und-Pianobau Loebau." Although still under the management of Wolfgang Förster, the company was annexed as part of the German Piano-Union, Leipzig.[1] The family name was added back into the official company name in 1976, resulting in instruments branded "VEB Förster Pianos Loebau." Also in 1976, the company began its first exports to the United States.

Noted Customers[edit]

Many prominent musicians have favored the German-made Förster piano. Among them have been Richard Strauss and Sergei Prokofiev, both owners of Förster pianos, and Giacomo Puccini, who wrote a number of his operas while working at a Förster piano. [6] Robert Fischer, Alex Duke and Anton Kuerti are also noted for their regard of the August Förster piano.[citation needed]


Förster pianos have won many awards for quality and tone, including the "Verleihung der Goldmedaille für den Rokokoflügel" in 1987.

In The Piano Book by Larry Fine, the German-made August Förster piano receives the highest possible rating in the areas of performance, quality control, and confidence (Fine’s term for general durability). In his "High Quality Performance Pianos" category, Fine ranks the modern August Förster piano as just below such internationally respected instruments as C. Bechstein, Grotrian, and Bösendorfer. "Larry Fine". Archived from the original on 2013-04-03. In addition, Fine praises the modern Förster piano for its "remarkable bass," and also comments on a particular "responsiveness" of the Renner action when observed in the Förster application.[verification needed]

In popular culture[edit]

An August Förster piano was seen by audiences worldwide as the featured instrument in the movie The Pianist.

Current Grand Piano Models[edit]

Model Number[7] Overall Length Net Weight Length of Longest Bass String
170 5' 8" 319 kg 1385 mm
190 6' 4" 385 kg 1480 mm
215 7' 2" 470 kg 1750 mm
275 9' 1" 550 kg 2080 mm

Current Upright Piano Models[edit]

Model Number[8] Overall Length Net Weight Length of Longest Bass String
116 46" 220 kg 1280 mm
125 49" 265 kg 1350 mm


  1. ^ a b c d "Geschichte" Archived September 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Official Website of August Förster GmbH, 2005. Accessed April 11, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Förster", Grove Music Online, 2009. Accessed 19 April 2009. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Handbuch des Allerhöchsten Hofes und des Hofstaates Seiner K. und K. Apostolischen Majestät., Vienna: K.k. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1917, p. 519
  4. ^ Hans-Joachim Braun. "Music Engineers. The Remarkable Career of Winston E. Knock, Electronic Organ Designer and NASA Chief of Electronics" (PDF). 2004 IEEE Conference on the History of Electronics. IEEE.
  5. ^ Wolfgang Voigt, “Oskar Vierling, ein Wegbereiter der Elektroakustik für den Musikinstrumentenbau>”, in: Das Musikinstrument vol. 37, No 1/2, 1988, 214-221, No. 2/3,172-176.
  6. ^ Predota, Georg (July 2016). "August Förster: Seducing the Ears". Interlude.
  7. ^ "Grand Pianos - Technical Details" Archived April 26, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Official Website of August Förster GmbH, 2005. Accessed April 11, 2009.
  8. ^ "Upright Pianos - Technical Details" Archived September 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Official Website of August Förster GmbH, 2005. Accessed April 11, 2009.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Altenburg Piano Hosts August Forster." Music Trades 148.9 (2000): 53.
  • Ehrlich, Cyril. The Piano: A History. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1990. ISBN 0-19-816171-9
  • Fine, Larry. The Piano Book: Buying and Owning a New or Used Piano, Fourth Edition. Jamaica Plain, MA: Brookside Press, 2005. ISBN 1-929145-01-2
  • Good, Edwin. Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos: A Technological History from Cristofori to the Modern Concert Grand, Second Edition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-4549-8
  • Williams, John-Paul. The Piano: An Inspirational Guide to the Piano and Its Place in History. New York: Billboard Books, 2002. ISBN 0-8230-8151-6

External links[edit]