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11 Oddest-Looking, Most Unusual Pianos Ever

The Bösendorfer-Audi Design Grand Piano when opened.
The Bösendorfer-Audi Design Grand Piano when opened.

WE’RE BACK TO oogling at pianos, and this time, we’re going to check out the most unusual, avant-garde, art nouveau pianofortes ever designed this side of the 21st century.

Some of them incorporated with quiet electronic automation for the necessary moving parts and some recreated with the sleekest of abstract, minimalist, modernist lines, these metamorphosed pieces of an otherwise chunky musical invention of the 18th century have made one heck of a quantum leap, only to re-emerge ─ totally re-invented─ in almost unrecognisable form today. Amazing. Oh, and quite a few have been inspired by luxury cars too. What is it about automobiles that make pianos out of them? Hmmm…

Anyways, you go have a look and you be the judge of whether you would like one of these babies to adorn your home.

Note: And if you’d like to rewind back to where the piano story started from, click on 8 Eyebrow-Raisers about the Piano We Bet You Didn’t Know to read the first part of the saga.

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1.The Audi Piano, yes you read right ─ Audi

Otherwise known as the Bösendorfer Audi Design Grand Piano, here’s how it happened and why. Back in 2009, to celebrate the car maker’s centenary,  Audi Design Studio partnered with Vienna-based piano manufacturer Bösendorfer to create a modern concert grand piano that reflected Audi’s sense of style and aesthetic.

Side and back view.
Side and back view. Avant-garde eh?

Bösendorfer is known for high quality acoustic pianos, which they’ve been making since 1828, so they worked in collaboration with the Audi design team to ensure the piano sounded as good as it looked. The most striking feature is the waterfall edge and the simple, squared pedals and aluminum leg.

The piano can be had for a princely €100,000 (about RM 456,000) and can be ordered via the Internet at audi@bosendorfer.com. Fancy one?

2.Ferrari Piano or Flying Horse?

Some say the Schimmel Pegasus looks like a Ferrari. What do you think?
Some say the Schimmel Pegasus looks like a Ferrari. What do you think?

German piano manufacturer Schimmel has been making straightforward pianos since 1885 but just for a change, this one called the Pegasus ─ named after the Greek mythological winged stallion ─ is the result of a collaboration with German designer Professor Luigi Colani who gave the traditional grand piano a virtuoso make-over.

The 88 keys are all in but are slightly curved. Colani says he made it so to enable the pianist to perform effortlessly, without having to move the body.
The 88 keys are all in but are slightly curved. Colani says he made it so to enable the pianist to perform effortlessly, without having to move the body.

Colani ─ also known as the “Leonardo Da Vinci of the 20th Century”─ threw out the customary box shape, replaced it with fluidity, gave it wings by curving the keyboard and injecting an electrically operated hydraulic lid, then put in the original Schimmel Triplex Scale “CAPE” precision soundboard tri-dimensionally curved and formed with a “high performance” back assembly with tension collector, a black leather seat fully adjustable for height, distance and width (in case you want to seat two), finished the job with high performance lacquer, and voila! ─ the Schimmel Pegasus was on its first flight.

Some say it looks more like a Ferrari than a horse but it’s down to your imagination what you want to see. Price? Only about RM408,900 at the last count in 2009 when the piano was launched. Only 14 were ever made by the way.

The Schimmel Pegasus Grand CC 208 P. Length 11’ 4” - Width 64” - Height 44” - Weight 1300 lbs.
The Schimmel Pegasus Grand CC 208 P. Length 11’ 4” – Width 64” – Height 44” – Weight 1300 lbs.

SCHIMMEL Pegasus K208 德國詩美 飛馬鋼琴_周杰倫Jay Chou 菊花

3.The Deep Sea Creature Piano ─ the Whaletone

You’re going to have a whale of a time with this ─ it’s even got fins to complete the look. Why…it’s the new-fangled digital hybrid keyboard called the Whaletone!

The Whaletone ─ a flagship model of the Roland brand, totally updated.
The Whaletone ─ a flagship model of the Roland brand, totally updated to blow you out of the water.

Fully capable of realistic acoustic grand piano sound (among 500 other built-in sounds like synth-pop), the Whaletone’s capability, built around Roland keyboard technology, will saturate a small room, provided you find a socket to connect to.

The person responsible for creating the Whaletone is notable Polish designer Robert Majkut, who specializes in designing luxurious interiors.

Luxurious Interiors? But, but…Yes, luxurious interiors. He is an interior designer. He had nothing to do with the digital components that makes the sound in the machine. Comprende?  Okay. (The sound processor ingenuity is all Roland’s).

Well, after he designed the most expensive cinema interior in Beijing, China and the cinema located in the Zlote Tarasy Mall in Warsaw, he designed the shape of the Whaletone.

Back, front and opened poses. The secret of the Whaletone, however, is in its sound processor. Apart from extraordinarily authentic acoustic grand piano sounds, it has 500 other built-in sounds available in Concert, Studio and Brilliant ambience.
Back, front and opened poses. The secret of the Whaletone, however, is in its sound processor. Apart from extraordinarily authentic acoustic grand piano sounds, it has 500 other built-in sounds available in Concert, Studio and Brilliant ambience.

But it’s an elegant design, don’t you think? Gorgeous smooth contours, really up-to-the-moment looking and reminiscent of an awesome Orca of the deep seas. Each piano is handmade, and you can choose another colour if you don’t fancy having Willy sitting in your living room looking like a fish out of water.

Don’t fancy having to ‘Free Willy’ each time you want to play? Don’t worry, there are other colours to choose from.
Don’t fancy having to ‘Free Willy’ each time you want to play? Don’t worry, there are other colours to choose from.

4.The Up-Close & Personal Piano

The rationale behind this concept is to encourage your audience to sit right up close as you play Rachmaninoff’s C Sharp Minor Prelude…so close they could peer at your fingers and point out your every mistake. Hmmmm…

Well, there’s a price if you want intimacy with your audience.

With Yamaha’s ‘Key Between People’, you can be the star of the show while you throw your own mini concert as your audience gathers around you.
With Yamaha’s ‘Key Between People’, you can be the star of the show while you throw your own mini concert as your audience gathers around you.

This Yamaha Concept Piano designed by Yves Plattard and Yamaha, exhibited at the Milan Salone 2008, showcases  a unique concept called Key Between People that is aimed at creating a closer environment for performances. Simplified, it means bringing the musician and the audience together.

Designed as a flat matte table or bar counter, the pianist and the listeners are placed on a level plane, giving a more direct connection between the two parties. Now friends and family members can sit at the table and watch you upclose and personal as you steal the show.

Don’t you think that’s a great idea?  A flattened grand piano for all round socialising. And yes, it’s a digital keyboard with a grand piano sound.

“Come gather 'round people, Wherever you roam…” from Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a-Changing’.
“Come gather ’round people, Wherever you roam…” from Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a-Changing’.

5.The Rolls Royce Piano

The Rolls-Royce Piano is said to be worth 2 million yuan or $302,984.
The Rolls-Royce Piano is said to be worth 2 million yuan or $302,984.

Unveiled in 2011 at Deji Square in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu province, a girl plays on the Rolls Royce Piano with plenty of skill.

There is not much information on the make or designer of the piano or the sound quality of the instrument but then, when you are bedazzled by all that red…you tend to get all eyes and no ears. Looks like the Schimmel Pegasus (above) if you ask me but then, they call it the Rolls Royce Piano. Who am I to argue? Especially when you compare the two pictures below.  And the cost? Oh, just a cool USD$302,980 or RM1,235,553 before GST.

Do they look one and the same? You be the judge.
Do they look one and the same? You be the judge.

6.The Batmobile Piano

This piano has been called many names: “The Human Piano”, “The Wonder Piano”, “The Maserati Piano”, “Sound Beyond Time” and the latest moniker… The Batmobile for its black Caped Crusader look. Making this kind of entrance, you can’t blame the name-droppers for being imaginative.

Like the Caped Crusader, this dark and powerful instrument is capable of a spectrum of sounds that gobeyond the ordinary ─ This is the Bogányi piano.
Like the Caped Crusader, this dark and powerful instrument is capable of a spectrum of sounds that go beyond the ordinary ─ This is the Bogányi piano.

Made entirely of carbon fibre composites especially for the soundboard (instead of wood) to produce a more “organic” sound and with only two wide legs as sound deflectors and a futuristic sleek exterior reminiscent of Batman’s swooshing leather cape cutting through the midnight sky, this “revolutionary”piano created by Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi, promises “Sound beyond Time”. What does that mean? No idea.

So why not you have a listen to see if you can figure out what “Sound beyond Time” means:

At any rate, after all the name-throwing, the piano is named after its creator after all and is thus simply called, The Bogányi piano. It’s available only in Hungary by the way. It was unveiled in Budapest in 2015 amid much Ooohs and Aaahs of an enthused public as well as the press, including The Guardian and Reuters.

Sweeping side view. Really ergonomic and fully acoustic.
Sweeping side view. Really ergonomic, lethally aesthetic and fully acoustic.

The Bogányi piano is no small feat by any standards. All 18,000 components featuring over 20 carbon composite layers were rethought and remodelled and a cast iron frame was built-in to weather the storm; well, maybe not the storm but humidity definitely ─ a bane of the traditional wooden piano. It took a team of Hungary’s best designers and engineers over 10 years to build this baby. So there you go.

Listen to Gergely Bogányi himself playing his own creation.

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Here are More Outlandish yet Functional Pianos for Your Look-See

7.The Rocking Piano

Sarah Davenport’s Rocking Chair Piano. It rocks you back and forth while you play!
Sarah Davenport’s Rocking Chair Piano. It rocks you back and forth while you play!

8.The Bed Piano

This was designed way back in 1935 in Great Britain. Now everybody can play the piano, even the bed-ridden.
OK, so this was designed way back in 1935 when they still called England Great Britain. But look at it this way: Now everybody can play the piano, even the bed-ridden.

9.The Table Piano

Another table piano but this one is designed by Georg Bohle in 2010. It’s a dinner table integrated with an electric piano for those who like a little musici to go with their spaghetti. Perfect for apartment and small space dwellers.
Another table piano but this one was designed by Georg Bohle in 2010. It’s a dinner table integrated with an electric piano for those who like a little musici to go with their spaghetti. Perfect for apartment and small space dwellers.

10.The Mind Altering Lyre Piano

This is the "PH Grand Piano”, a replica of a model already realized in 1931 by the Danish creative genius Poul Henningsen. Featuring a low waist and narrow red leather, the instrument comprises three legs and a metal lyre with extremely bold curves and a transparent lid and a desk with metal frame. PH Pianos are crafted by Blüthner in Germany. Thus you have the tagline ─ Danish Design & German Craftsmanship.
This is the “PH Grand Piano”, a replica of a model already realized in 1931 by the Danish creative genius Poul Henningsen. Featuring a low waist and narrow red leather, the instrument comprises three legs and a metal lyre with extremely bold curves and a transparent lid and a desk with metal frame. PH Pianos are crafted by Blüthner in Germany. Thus you have the tagline ─ Danish Design & German Craftsmanship.

11.The Retro Piano

It’s a Bösendorfer, in case you want to know. Nice contrast colours with a distinctly retro look. Very hip and with-it.
It’s a Bösendorfer, in case you want to know. Nice contrast colours with a distinctly retro look. Might have been made for the Tin Man. Love the pedals. Very with-it.

And with that, we hope you’ve enjoyed the show. Until next time….

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