Indiana-based Kimball International has agreed to sell its famed <A HREF="http://www.boesendorfer.com/" TARGET="new">Boesendorfer</A> piano division to an Austrian bank. Helmut Elsner, president of th

Indiana-based Kimball International has agreed to sell its famed Boesendorfer piano division to an Austrian bank. Helmut Elsner, president of the Bawag-P.S.K. bank, said yesterday (Dec. 20) that the sales contract will be signed in January. He declined to name the price of the deal.

Under new ownership, Boesendorfer plans to increase production from the present 500 to 800 grand pianos a year, said company officials.

The company now employs about 230 people, most of them in its factory at Wiener Neustadt, southeast of Vienna. Last year, it made a profit of more than $2 million on sales of more than $16 million.

Boesendorfer and Steinway are considered the Rolls-Royces of pianos. Among the hundreds of virtuosi and composers associated with Boesendorfer since the first handmade instrument was assembled in the early 19th century have been Anton Rubinstein, Johannes Brahms, and Bela Bartok. Today, such popular artists as Tori Amos and Alicia Keys favor the company's instruments.

Boesendorfer first gained fame in the early 1800s, after contemporaries of Franz Liszt praised it as being the first piano that was able to stand up to the punishment meted out by the Hungarian maestro.

Kimball acquired Boesendorfer in 1966.


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