The Pramberger Legacy

History
The Pramberger legacy began over 225 years ago with the birth of Joseph Johann Pramberger in Tyrol, Austria in 1779. Joseph learned the skills of woodworking and at a very young age in Vienna during an era in history where every aspect of creating a piano was an art of learned skill and personal craftsmanship. Joseph had the utmost respect for the tradition of craftsmanship and piano building principles, and his education led him to become a Master Artisan in Europe.

After serving an apprenticeship under Mathias Muller in the early 1800s, Joseph was employed and then later partnered with Michael Schweighofer, a Viennese piano builder. After several years, Pramberger gained full ownership of the Schweighofer & Pramberger Piano Shop in Vienna. At this time, many important innovations were invented while classical music’s popularity started to gain momentum. In addition, Joseph learned the importance of protecting his hard work and inventions, patenting several new piano designs, piano strings and metal soundboard.

Anton PrambergerJoseph Johann Pramberger’s two sons, Johann Jr. and Joseph, followed in his footsteps. Johann Jr. learned the trade and eventually took over the family business, while Joseph studied the art of woodworking alongside his brother and later became an independent piano builder. The family secrets of fine woodworking and masterful skills were passed down from generation to generation in the Pramberger family, and Anton Pramberger was no exception. Anton became a Master Artisan at an early age in the tradition of Old World European craftsmen as he learned directly from his grandfather by working as an apprentice for him. It was also a time when he learned the value of traditions, the importance of detail, and how to apply only the best craftsmanship principles. Anton once recalled his grandfather instructing him at a young age to “meticulously observe only the best work of others, and absorb every possible detail and nuance of their craft.”

With Europe still recovering from the devastation brought on by World War II, along with the advice and prodding of his family, Anton decided to move his family and immigrate to the United States. His uncles and cousins had already been employed by Steinway & Sons since 1913, and he was offered a job at Steinway’s piano factory in Astoria, New York. He dedicated roughly the next 25 years to Steinway & Sons working as a pattern maker and constructing the complex machinery required to manufacture pianos. Anton’s son Joseph, just 12 years old when the family migrated to the United States, continued the family tradition by following in his father’s footsteps. He too gained employment with Steinway & Sons, spending nearly 30 years with the company as he honed his piano making skills and technique.

Joseph Pramberger never stopped studying the art of piano making, choosing to expand his knowledge through formal education by attending New York University and earning a Bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering. His vision was to recapture and recreate sound characteristics of a “Golden Era” Steinway and blend them seamlessly into the technological advantages of the modern age. He was often requested by the bigger names of the piano industry to visit and consult key suppliers and major piano manufacturers in Europe, Japan and Korea, something that he continued to do even in retirement. He would go on to become a Design and Project Engineer and eventually retire as Vice President of Manufacturing for Steinway & Sons and Chairman of the International Technical Exchange Group.

In the tradition of the Pramberger family members before him, Joseph formed his own company, Pramberger Piano Ltd. in 1987. He began designing his own line of pianos and worked together with his father, Anton, restoration and rebuilding pianos. Although design and manufacturing technology has evolved over the years, the inherited knowledge, experience and skilled touch of a Master Craftsman’s hands are still paramount in the creation of a modern musical instrument. Samick is proud to continue the long, distinguished tradition of Pramberger while manufacturing these pianos with the same core values and detailed craftsmanship.


Timeline

1700′s
• 1700 Bartomeo Cristofori develops the first piano
• 1723 Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) becomes choirmaster of Saint Thomas’s church, Leipzig, Germany
• c1750 Pramberger family immigrates to Vienna, Austria from the Black Forest region of Germany
• 1756 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) is born in Salzburg, Austria
• 1779 Joseph Johann Pramberger (1779–1834) is born in Tyrol, Austria
• 1780 Nanette Stein-Streicher develops the improved Vienna action for the piano-forte
• 1792 Schweighofer & Sohne piano makers established in Vienna. By 1900s was Vienna’s oldest firm
• 1792 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) moves to Vienna to study under Joseph Haydn

1800′s
• 1800 Joseph Johann Pramberger, after apprenticeship under Mathias Muller, partners with Michael Schweighofer
• 1810 Joseph Johann Pramberger acquires full ownership of Schweighofer & Pramberger piano shop in Vienna
• 1810 Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) is born
• 1811 Johann Pramberger, Jr. is born in Vienna, studies under his father, and eventually leads the family business
• 1814 Beethoven’s last public appearance
• 1814 Joseph Pramberger is born, studies with father and brother and becomes an independent piano builder
• 1821 Sebastian Erard patents double escapement piano-forte action
• 1821 Johann Pramberger Jr. invents a new piano stop called the Violoncellton
• 1824 Johann Pramberger Sr. patents new type of piano called a Sirenion
• 1824 Pramberger receives patents for design work on piano strings and metal soundboard
• 1827 John Broadwood patents iron hitchpin piano frame with cross bars
• 1839 Pramberger piano receives honorable mention at Vienna exhibition
• 1851 Franz Liszt, (1811–1886), composes “Transcendental Etudes”
• 1853 Steinway & Sons® piano makers established in Astoria, New York
• 1859 “Modern” overstrung scale with full iron frame patented
• 1867 Pramberger piano receives Bronze Medal at Paris exposition
• 1873 Pramberger piano receives Medal for Technical Excellence in Vienna
• 1892 Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943) composes “Prelude in C-sharp Minor”
• 1899 Scott Joplin (1868–1917) composes “Maple Leaf Rag”

1900′s
• 1900 Pneumatic player pianos developed
• 1904 Vladimir Horowitz (1904–1989) is born
• 1909 Anton Pramberger is born
• 1913 Pramberger family members begin working at Steinway & Sons®, NY
• 1924 George Gershwin (1898–1937) composes “Rhapsody in Blue”
• 1930 Duke Ellington (1899–1974) broadcasts jazz from the Cotton Club, Harlem, NY
• 1950 Anton Pramberger family immigrates to New York City. Anton begins work at Steinway & Sons®
• 1958 Joseph J. Pramberger begins work at Steinway & Sons®, NY
• 1975 Joseph J. Pramberger invents patented bushing for piano actions
• 1987 Joseph J. Pramberger leaves Steinway & Sons® and creates Pramberger Pianos Ltd., NY

2000′s
• 2000 Pramberger Platinum Edition world-class grand piano models JP-185 and JP-208 debut
• 2004 Pramberger joins the SMC family
• 2005 The torch is passed to a new American design team to carry on Joseph Pramberger’s commitment to quality and attention to detail
• 2009 SMC begins American assembly