Piano Donated by Franke Family Fosters ‘Extraordinary Musicianship’ at UChicago’s Department of Music

Piano Donated by Franke Family Fosters ‘Extraordinary Musicianship’ at UChicago’s Department of Music

Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke with Bösendorfer piano

Known as the “Stradivarius of Pianos,” Bösendorfer pianos produce a dark, rich sound preferred by many artists and music lovers. Longtime supporters of the Division of the Humanities, Barbara E. and Richard J. Franke, recently donated a Bösendorfer piano to UChicago’s Department of Music.

“The [piano] is surely an enrichment to the line-up of pianos, helping to foster the extraordinary musicianship of our students and instructors,” says Berthold Hoeckner, chair of the Department of Music.

The Bösendorfer piano is the first and only instrument of its kind on campus. Daniel Pesca, head of the Chamber Music Program, is the instrument’s most frequent player.

“I am beyond fortunate to have this beautiful piano in my office,” Pesca says. “I coach and rehearse chamber music frequently. The Bösendorfer's sweetness and transparency of tone make it ideally suited to playing with two or three other musicians.”

Additionally, Pesca expects he and his students will greatly benefit from playing such a fine instrument. “We are grateful to the Frankes for their generosity,” he said.

Since the early 19th century, musicians have played Bösendorfer pianos in concerts and piano recitals for the likes of Tsar Nikolaus II of Russia, Empress Elizabeth of Austria, and the Emperor of Japan. Classical composers, such as Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms, and Ferruccio Busoni, preferred their sound to other pianos. Tori Amos, Pete Townshend of The Who, and Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz are among their contemporary fans.

Over many years, the Frankes have been instrumental in sustaining the University’s legacy of interdisciplinary work. They have generously supported the Division of the Humanities and serve as the founders of the Franke Institute for the Humanities.

July 31, 2018