St. Olaf College Chooses Bösendorfer 280VC as Centerpiece for Main Recital Hall

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The college is first in the nation to acquire this model from the new line of pianos from the world's oldest manufacturer.

Dennis Johnson, lead piano technician at St. Olaf College, carefully tunes the college's new Bösendorfer 280VC Vienna Concert grand piano.

Dennis Johnson, lead piano technician at St. Olaf College, carefully tunes the college's new Bösendorfer 280VC Vienna Concert grand piano.

“We were looking for an instrument that was better than just ‘excellent;’ we were looking for something that was truly special,” recalls Christopher Atzinger, associate professor of music, piano, St. Olaf College.

The Bösendorfer 280VC Vienna Concert grand piano has been awarded pride of place in St. Olaf College’s Urness Recital Hall, following the College’s decision to become the first institute of higher learning in the United States to purchase this elegant model for use on campus.

The grand piano by Bösendorfer, a subsidiary of Yamaha, will be a central, permanent feature of the Center’s musical instrument collection, serving as its “top concert instrument,” according to Christopher Atzinger, associate professor of music, piano. St. Olaf, a private liberal arts college south of Minneapolis, brought the piano into Urness in early September and will be inaugurating it formally at a special dedication concert event in February.

Prof. Atzinger spearheaded a selection process lasting nearly a year, taking him and Dennis Johnson, lead piano technician at St. Olaf, to New York, Boston and Los Angeles before flying to Bösendorfer’s showroom in Vienna, Austria last May. There they conducted further study of the Bösendorfer 280VC they’d seen in California, and finally settled on the instrument that ended their search.

“We were looking for an instrument that was better than just ‘excellent;’ we were looking for something that was truly special,” recalls Atzinger. “So the bar was set quite high, and that's why the search took almost a year.”

In describing what made the Bösendorfer stand out, Atzinger remarks that “the bass register was incredibly rich but also the middle and upper registers had a resonance that we were not finding with other manufacturers, and the quality of the tone we both instantly felt was superior.”

While the Bösendorfer 280VC has only been at St. Olaf College for slightly over a month, it has already drawn praise from faculty and guest artists alike. The piano will primarily be used for recitals by guest artists, faculty members and degree candidates, although Atzinger says he is considering recording his next CD using the Bösendorfer. “I would be thrilled to use it for my next recording, absolutely; I can envision that project doing quite well with that piano.”

The handcrafted Bösendorfer 280VC, part of the new Vienna Concert series, possesses the distinctive Viennese sound, responsive action and sophisticated dynamic response that have made Bösendorfer the gold standard dating back to the musical renaissance of the mid 1800’s. Today, as the world’s oldest premium piano manufacturer, the new Vienna Concert series keeps brings many new technical developments instituted during a multi-year refinement process. This exceptionally versatile concert stage instrument holds its own against the power of a large orchestra, but also has the sensitivity to offer nuanced accompaniment to chamber music.    

The piano has been heard in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York and Strathmore Hall in Maryland, as well as Vienna’s Musikverein and Konzerthaus and the Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

Eminent pianist and composer Sir András Schiff, who has had a long history with Bösendorfer, having performed extensively on the 280VC, says, “All instruments try to imitate the human voice and this Bösendorfer piano does it on a very, very high level.”

The dedication concert at St. Olaf will take place in Urness Recital Hall on February 28, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. The entire piano faculty will be performing solo works, followed by Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G Minor performed by Prof. Atzinger himself with the St. Olaf strings faculty.

For more information about St. Olaf College, visit
For more information about Bösendorfer, visit
For more information about Yamaha Corporation of America, visit

About Bösendorfer
Bösendorfer was founded in 1828 in Vienna, Austria and has been the instrument of choice for many of the world’s most famous artists and composers. This limited production, handcrafted instrument remains one of the most sought-after instruments for musicians, institutions and piano enthusiasts worldwide.

About Yamaha
Yamaha Corporation of America (YCA) is one of the largest subsidiaries of Yamaha Corporation, Japan and offers a full line of award-winning musical instruments, sound reinforcement, commercial installation and home entertainment products to the U.S. market. Products include: Yamaha acoustic, digital and hybrid pianos, portable keyboards, guitars, acoustic and electronic drums, band and orchestral instruments, marching percussion products, synthesizers, professional digital and analog audio equipment, Steinberg recording products and NEXO commercial audio products, as well as AV receivers, amplifiers, MusicCast wireless multiroom audio systems, Blu-ray/CD players, earphones, headphones, home-theater-in-a-box systems, sound bars and its exclusive line of Digital Sound Projectors. YCA markets innovative, finely crafted technology and entertainment products and musical instruments targeted to the hobbyist, education, worship, music, professional audio installation and consumer markets.

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