Friedmar Lohöfener

Friedmar Lohöfener

Master Piano Maker & Product Developer

Friedmar Lohöfener

Watching each and every one of us strive for perfection, seeing how every musician gets a product they can use to express themselves – it’s fantastic!

When I get to work in the mornings, I enter a world that to my mind couldn’t be any more beautiful. There are all those different kinds of materials, just waiting to be formed into a unique piano. There are the people working with passionate dedication to prepare or complete each singular item. There are the action and acoustic assembly inside each instrument, which modulate sound to create something truly special. When we get musicians visiting who sit down at a piano and just let their fingers dance across the keys, those are the moments that show me: what you’re doing here as a piano maker and product designer is living your dream!

I’m fortunate to be involved in lots of things here at Niendorf. There’s the design work, I’m head of production, there’s material procurement, some admin and of course tuning and voicing. What I really love about this job is that I get to put absolutely everything I learnt in master training to use here. I get to design, to realise my own ideas and put my own finish on things. And if you’ve ever compared our pianos with others, you’ll have seen it: Niendorf pianos are different. Our level of craftsmanship is especially high.

I always dreamt of building wooden instruments. Is was pure coincidence that I ended up with an internship at Blüthner, where I was introduced to the intricacies of vertical and grand pianos. The many different steps involved in making a piano delighted me. As an intern, I worked in the joinery, was able to experiment a lot with paints in the paintshop, learnt about the strings and action. I was even allowed to take apart an old grand that was brought in for repairs. It was back then that I first understood how many different fields of work are involved in piano making, how diverse it is. I realised then that this was the profession I wanted to learn. I was convinced it would never become boring, so I took up an apprenticeship.

After five-and-a-half years of working as a journeyman, I wanted to delve deeper. I began asking myself why are the strings calculated the way they are? Why is the acoustic assembly designed that way? Why are they distinct to each instrument? How does this affect the sound? How do you calculate and fit the action?
That decided it, really: I would train as a master. No sooner said than done! I also enjoyed a side benefit in that master training includes an in-depth history of piano making. Which was really exciting!

Of course, music itself is also important to me. Like most people, I often have music on in the background. But I also really like consciously listening to music. I love getting to understand how musicians play. I’m a big jazz fan, for instance. When I hear a musician play a great solo, I like to try and understand the musical progression, discover the idea behind it, find out what the musician is trying to express. I’m generally fascinated by the entire creative process that goes into a piece of music. When you play music yourself, you develop a special sensitivity to music, which can always be interpreted in more than one way. I love exploring a piece of music, interpreting it, understanding the musician’s intent. It’s always exciting, but sometimes it can also be quite serious or even funny.

Watching people play on our vertical and grand pianos is quite similar. I believe the instruments can produce a form of liberation. People say they allow their thoughts to flow freely and let them relax. I think they create joy – the simple joy of making music, of delighting others, of expressing yourself. Music helps us deal with our own emotions. What it comes down to is passion, which we can express wonderfully through music. My passion kindles with vertical and grand pianos, tying them in a very special way into my sense of music.

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