The History and Development of the Modern Piano - Page 3
Specialization in Germany
Originating in America, this development and the process of model adaptation prevailed only gradually in Europe and in Germany. The rise of Germany to an industrial power at the end of the 19th century involved its piano-makers in a rise to hitherto unknown and unexpected status and importance. The progressive companies achieved great advances. Firms such as Ibach, Bösendorfer, Schiedmayer, and lrmler, or "newcomers" such as Bechstein and Blüthner exploited the advantages of technological developments.
Louis Renner began on a very modest level with the production of piano mechanism in October of 1882. Hand-crafted production was at the heart of these beginnings. The history of this company is closely related to that of the German piano industry and the demands of industrial production methods of specialization.
When moving into a new factory building in 1902, Renner employed a staff of 35. This total had risen to 100 by 1911, and a new wing had to be added to the works. Renner had been producing hammers as well since 1906. More and more machines found their way into the production process. Skilled craftsmanship was reduced to the important production stages, above all to the comprehensive controls without which superior quality cannot be produced.
The number of employees had risen to 175 by the First World War. Labor-saving methods were developed parallel to the introduction of the newest machinery. Production was switched to separate drive with hundreds of electric-motors and the production program was rounded off by the inclusion of mechanisms for grand pianos as well. All branches of mechanism manufacturing were now brought together under one roof.
The number of employees rose to 400 in the twenties and thirties, workshop premises covered 5,000 square meters. The firm's own power plant with steam turbines and engines produced 410 hp for the entire lighting and the power for about 300 motors running the individual machines.
The complicated extent of mechanism production is particularly apparent if it is considered that over 6,000 sections and small parts, springs and strips have to be put together for one single piano mechanism. It is scarcely possible to enumerate the number of motions and works stages leading to the end-product. Renner is a typical example of German precision industry as it is acknowledged throughout the world. The most modern machinery ensures the highest possible standard of precision and the reliability of the individual sections.
The factory was almost completed destroyed in 1944, but mechanisms were already being manufactured again in 1948, initially for the German-speaking area, later for international use. Manufacturers abroad were relying again on Renner products. Expansion was necessary in 1960 and 1974, when a new works was opened in Odenheim. The entire processing of raw wood, the hammer glue-works and other pre-assembly sections are now all located here. A major wood storage yard also holds more than 2,000 cubic meters of wood. In 199l Renner opened a third plant in Zeitz near Leipzig where their upright action production is today located.