Bluthner Piano’s history is one of a successful company that, at the same time, is also a family history. With excellent credentials and a small budget, Julius Bluthner started his pianoforte factory on November 18th, 1852. His instruments were quickly recognized for their outstanding technical and musical qualities. With just three journeymen, production started in a rented workshop in Leipzig, Germany. Ten instruments were made the first year, eight grands and two square pianos. Soon the instruments captured the attention of musical authorities and well-known artists like Brahms, Liszt, Schumann and Tschaikovsky. Europe’s nobility bestowed their approval as well and Bluthner received appointments as purveyors to Queen Victoria, Tsar Nicolas II, the Danish King, the German Emperor, the Turkish Sultan and the King of Saxony. Soon the manufacturing facilities became too small for the growing level of production and in 1890 a new factory suitable for 1200 workers was established.
Throughout the rapid growth, it was always very important to Julius Bluthner to keep the company structured as a family business and his children were taught the business in detail and gained a thorough understanding of the entire production process. After Julius’ death in April 1910, the responsibility of production rested on the shoulders of his sons Max, Robert and Bruno. In 1932 a son-in-law, merchant and lawyer Dr. Rudolf Bluthner-Haessler, took over the reins of the company.
By 1935 Bluthner was recognized as a particularly innovative company and German leaders selected Bluthner for the special task of building an extremely lightweight grand piano for the airship Hindenburg. However, guiding the company through the Second World War was a difficult task. It was with a heavy heart that Bluthner-Haessler was to see the family’s company completely destroyed by fire during an air raid in December 1943. Everything was destroyed, apart from the factory’s walls. With determination and a strong vision for the future, Bluthner-Haessler restructured the company, despite conflicts with German leaders, and in 1948 instruments began leaving the factory again.
After the death of Rudolf in 1966, his son Ingbert took over the company management. However, in 1972 the leadership and nationalization of East Germany by the government took place. His choice to stay on as managing director, despite pressure and doubt, was an economically sound decision for the future of Bluthner. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Bluthner was reorganized back into a family business and, like Bluthner generations before, he extended the production capacity and modernized the factory.
In 1995 Ingbert’s sons, Christian and Knut joined the company, bringing in the fourth generation. Today, Christian is in charge of sales and finances and Knut is in charge of production and all technical aspects. The company has subsidiaries and service centers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia, as well as a worldwide network of dealers.