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Bösendorfer Imperial Grand Piano

Following the successful establishment of Viennese Ball music scholarships, international study awards and an endowment fund with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, the Viennese Ball Committee embarked on a special project. The goal was to acquire a Bösendorfer Imperial Grand Piano for the university.

The Bösendorfer Imperial is the grandest of grand pianos, with 97 keys — nine more than the standard 88-note keyboard. The nine extra keys at the lower end are rarely used, but the sympathetic vibration of the extra strings gives the Imperial’s bass an extra richness.

The Bösendorfer piano became most famous because of its use by Franz Liszt. Before he discovered the Bösendorfer, Liszt often needed the services of several pianos during a performance. After a few selections each instrument would, under Liszt’s romantic fury, break down. But the Bösendorfer never failed him.

The company, formed by Ignaz Bösendorfer in 1828, is still located in Vienna and still dedicated to producing the best pianos in the world. It takes 62 weeks to build a Bösendorfer, and only a few Imperials are produced in any given year. The distinctive Bösendorfer sound is derived from solid Bavarian spruce construction that makes the entire piano act as a sounding board.

Bösendorfer has been the choice of nearly all the top concert artists in Europe since Liszt gave his formal endorsement to the instrument. The Bösendorfer was little known on American concert stages when Kimball International purchased the company in 1966 and began to challenge Steinway’s near monopoly.

A Bösendorfer Imperial first appeared at UW-Eau Claire at a 1979 Artists Series performance by the Minnesota Orchestra and pianist Steven De Groote. Larry Bauer, associate director of university programs, made arrangements for Kimball International to provide the piano free of charge, including shipping, to the university for the concert.



After learning that the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire presents an annual Viennese Ball, Kimball International offered an Imperial Bösendorfer at the significantly reduced cost of $49,990, rather than the spring 1988 price of $75,500. Kimball made this generous offer to the Viennese Ball “in recognition of your efforts in promoting Vienna and the fine arts.”

The Viennese Ball pledged $26,000 toward the purchase and began a fundraising campaign. Because there are 97 keys on a Bösendorfer Imperial, the funding campaign sought 97 individuals or groups to make “key contributions.” The University Foundation also made a generous contribution to the campaign.

The Bösendorfer Imperial bearing the opus number 39688 was chosen by Penelope Cecchini and Donald Patterson of the department of music. The piano was purchased March 4, 1988, and made its debut four weeks later at the 15th Annual Viennese Ball.

Our Bösendorfer Imperial is center stage at each Viennese Ball. It has been used by students, faculty and many guest artists including Garrick Ohlsson, who presented the Bösendorfer’s 10th anniversary concert as part of the Artists Series.

Bösendorfer Imperial Campaign 1986–1988  •  Key Contributors


An asterisk* denotes a specific key request. A substantial contribution was also made by
the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation, Inc.

Key Number 1 (C)
In recognition of James L. Clute by Joseph and Mary Ousley

Key Number 2 (C#)
Ed and Beth Hicks

Key Number 3 (D)
In memory of Margaret M. Whelihan by Fritz von Schrader

Key Number 4 (D#)
Alberti Group Key: Geraldine Wing; Ida Hinz; E.S. Welch; Land O'Lakes, Inc.;
Annabelle C. Erickson; Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell Johnson

Key Number 5 (E)
Dorellen and Leonard Haas

Key Number 6 (F)
Bach Group Key: Sylvia and Vernon Spaeth; Mabel and Esther Regli;
Dave and Pat Nuesse; Robert and Dorothy Herdrich, State Farm Insurance;
Robin L. Leary; Lanny N. Okonek; Mrs. Jean E. Graf; Ziggy’s Vacuum;
Kathleen and Mark Attermeier; Wayne and Pat Miller; Elizabeth L. Woods

Key Number 7 (F#)
First Wisconsin National Bank of Eau Claire

Key Number 8 (G)
In memory of Alfred (Fritz) Schoknecht by Carol and George Wos

Key Number 9 (G#)
In memory of Bernice W. Riley by the Riley Family

Key Number 10 (A)
Jean and Fred Sirianni

Key Number 11 (A#)
J.C. Penney of Eau Claire

Key Number 12 (B)
In honor of Blake, Bradley and Tamara von Haden by Bob and Penny von Haden

Key Number 13 (C)
In memory of Oliver Finseth by the Charlotte Finseth Family

Key Number 14 (C#)
In memory of Grace Schute

Key Number 15 (D)
Dr. and Mrs. M.T. Szatalowicz

Key Number 16 (D#)
In recognition of Kirstin, Elise and Trygve Gomsrud by Jerry L. Gomsrud

Key Number 17 (E)
In loving memory of Fred Uecke by Earl and Ruth Uecke

Key Number 18 (F)
In memory of Leo Duax by Corinne Duax

Key Number 19 (F#)
In memory of Leo Duax by the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States

Key Number 20 (G)
Chopin Group Key: In memory of Dr. Donald J. Birr by Mrs. Doris Birr;
Arthur and Helen Rizzi; John W. Rammer; Charles Green; Mildred Strasburg;
Jim and Judy Plahmer; John J. Schuberth; John P. Hanson; Dorothy J. Hanson;
in honor of our adviser, Larry Bauer, by UW-Eau Claire Usher Corps members
Kurt Bushman, Michael Fuller, Patrice Genteman, James Hessel, Christine Martin,
Carol Racanelli, Christopher Sikora and Christine Wyngaard; Patricia Gilfoy;
Donald and Janet Patterson; Elizabeth Koch

Key Number 21 (G#)
In memory of Thomas P.K. Lim by Johng Lim

Key Number 22 (A)
Gary and Pat Bartlett

Key Number 23 (A#)
In honor of Caldwell and Georgia Johnson by Rupert Hohmann

Key Number 24 (B)
Robert and Judith Mickelson

Key Number 25 (C)
Robert and Judith Mickelson by Aid Association for Lutherans

Key Number 26 (C#)
In memory of Janice Oxley by Kim Chard and Terry Oxley

Key Number 27 (D)
James and Dorothy Chmel

Key Number 28 (D#)
Charles and Lucy Bauer

Key Number 29 (E)
Marie and Bill Roll

Key Number 30 (F)
In memory of Edith Schwahn Johnson by David L.F. Duax

Key Number 31 (F#)
In memory of Minnie T. Thompson by former piano students
Virginia Nelson Anderson, Corinne T. Charlson, Patricia Campbell Hanson,
Marlys Rudd Mittelstadt and Leon G. Salander; and nephew, John T. Thompson

Key Number 36 (B)
Beethoven Group Key: In memory of Bill Zorn by Jewell and John Walters;
Mabel L. Solberg; Ziggy’s Vacuum; Susan M. Voight; Barbara and Bill Read;
in recognition of James Chumas, Sr., by Jany Chumas; Thomas C. Ziegeweid,
Ziggy’s Vacuum; in recognition of Alice Faye & Franz Josef Katt by
Roy and Carol Massoth

Key Number 44 (G)
In thanks for our gifts, Jacob Andrew Gapko and Josef Henry Gapko,
by Andrea and Laurie Gapko

Key Number 46 (A)
In memory of Beulah Dalton Smalley and James Conley Smalley by Ada Smalley Bors

Key Number 49 (Middle C)
Robert D. Popelka and Paula J. Stuettgen

Key Number 51 (D)
Ada and Adam Bors

Key Number 52 (D#)
In memory of Nancy Jo Pickett by Elizabeth A. Pickett Kaufman, Lael J. Pickett,
Michael J. Pickett & Kerry R. Pickett

Key Number 53 (E)
Gordon E. and Elizabeth A. Everson

Key No. 54 (F)
In memory of Virginia Carley Gmeiner by Conrad & Mary Ellen Hutterli,
Conrad Jr., Gretchen, Fritz, Mary & Martha Hutterli

Key Number 56 (G)
Presented by Bernard and Patricia Duyfhuizen and Dr. G.M.J. Duyfhuizen
in memory of Lilly van Spengen, Rotterdam, Holland

Key Number 58 (A)
The University Symphony Orchestra by Rupert Hohmann

Key Number 61 (C)
Frederick and Candice Haug

Key Number 67 (F#)
Johann Strauss, Jr. Group Key: In memory of Konrad & Lina Breitfeld,
parents of Dorothea Breitfeld Degenhardt, by the Viennese Ball Committee;
In memory of Edith Helbig, mother of Greta Helbig Green, by the Viennese Ball Committee

Key Number 70 (A)
Brian Conley Bors and Katherine Dalton Bors by Ada Smalley Bors