August Forster Piano

A History as Rich as the Sound

It’s rather uncommon to find a quality product without an accompanying rich history – a history that deepens the way we appreciate the things we use. The following is a great example of how history helps shape our admiration for the August Forster Piano. As you’ll see, certain elements of the Forster company development make us focus our attention on the ‘why’ as we learn about the ‘when,’ ‘where,’ and ‘how.’

Friedrich August Förster

The August Forster Piano is the masterwork of Friedrich August Förster, a German piano-maker who started his career as a cabinetmaker in 1849. As an Oberseifersdorf native, August repaired musical instruments when he wasn’t building cabinets — giving great influence to the skills that he would eventually perfect through studying the art of piano-making in Löbau. Five years later, August officially earned his title as a piano-maker and then returned home.

Reaching Markets Beyond Range

In 1859, the first August Forster piano was created and he then later established a piano-making factory which still exists even to this day. What’s particularly amazing about his accomplishments is that they were made when the year’s 1886 import restrictions had a direct impact on sales. Maneuvering through different distribution channels allowed August to reach markets that would have otherwise been unreachable.

Czech Nationalization

He died in 1897 but his son Caesar continued the legacy for fine pianos with a factory in Bohemia and almost half a century later, the Bohemian factory was nationalized by the Czech government. As a result, the August Forster piano was manufactured through the Czech Petroff factory. Unfortunately, their quality didn’t come anywhere near to the quality of the original Loebau-made August Forster Pianos.

A generation later, Caesar’s own sons re-took control over the factory and restored the quality that was lost under the state’s control. These two men, Gerhard and Manfred, were responsible for affecting the quarter-tone grand piano and electrochord designs of the 1920s and 1930s. But from 1966 to 1976, the company’s ownership continued to change after Gerhard’s and Manfred’s death, and the Foerster name, as a brand name, continued along an unstable path as well.

A Return To Private Ownership

None of the multiple exchanges of ownership seemed to affect the ability of the August Forster piano to win International awards and medals, but once the German Democratic Republic collapsed, the company returned to private ownership. Today, we have the results of a company that is once again owned by Forster family members and that has returned to its Loebau tradition. That is of course, a tradition of single strung strings and soft sounds.

Throughout the history of pianists, the August Forster Piano is a tradition favored by musicians such as Anton Kuerti, Piccini, Richard Straus, Robert Fischer, and Sergei Prokofiev. And it’s a tradition that has even made an entrance into the moving picture industry as well. The piano in “The Pianist” is an August Forster Piano!

The trials and tribulations of the Forster Company are certainly milestones of its endurance. And we can certainly look forward to the wonderful events that its future will bring.

Posted by Tania Gleaves

  1. I just acquired my childhood piano- an August Forster 5 foot 8 grand piano which was purchsed for my 16th birthday in 1968. It was purchased at Remenyi House of Music in Toronto Canada, and was made cira 1967 in Georgswalde Czechoslovakia, model 170, apparently built for an exhibition in Europe. It has a striking entirely white interior
    ( black ebony exterior). The serial # is 116009 I wonder if you have any further information on this piano or where I might research learning more about it! It is a wonderful sounding piano with a rich tone and is in pristine condition what would it’s value be?
    Thanks Janet Horvath

  2. I have a Grand Piano August Förster. I got it from my mother when she died about 11 years ago. She got it from her grandfather, who bought it for her as a very fine gift about 1930 to my knowledge. The piano has an inscription made as a kind of 3D logo with the (establishing) year 1859, but I do not see any serial number.

    Does anybody know how to find out about the production year, eventually a serial number and what the value of a piano like this may be?

    The piano is in general in good state, but have not been tuned for years and it is missing a couple of strings, which are all relatively easy to solve.


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