Piano making in Estonia was an art practiced during the late 18th century and has been documented as early as 1779.
The craft had flourished, and during the late 19th and the early 20th century there were nearly 20 independent piano companies. The most notable of these manufacturers was Ernst Hiis-Ihse, whose handmade piano from 1893 became the prototype of the Estonia piano. After the WW II, Mr. Hiis was invited to establish a larger facility, known today as the Estonia Piano Factory.
Estonia made pianos received awards for excellence in design and manufacturing at international competitions in Europe.
They became prominent on concert stages throughout the East, and over 7 400 Concert Grand instruments have been made. Many great pianists, such as Sviatoslav Richter, Dmitry Shostakovitch, Emil Gilels and Claudio Arrau, among others, performed on these pianos. After Mr. Hiis’ death in 1964, however, the quality of the pianos gradually declined in part due to the scarcity of high quality parts and materials during the communist regime, and changes that were made to the production methods.
When the country regained its independence in 1991, the factory’s employees struggled to keep production going, and few years later bought the factory. Through the end of 1990’s, dr. Indrek Laul, an Estonian pianist, gradually purchased company stock and became its majority owner. With a team of managers he initiated the rise of the company. The instruments were redesigned through collaborating with foremost piano experts, aiming to create an instrument of the highest level.
…while becoming factory’s sole owner and uniting its US distribution, dr. Laul’s musical family, along with pianist Reet Laul and conductor Venno Laul, has turned the tides and brought the piano yet to a higher level. Hundreds of changes and advancements were implemented in all piano models, a new production building was constructed, and new piano models were added. In recent years, two new piano models were added – 210 and 225. By improving the sound, performance, appearance and durability, the instrument is now rated very highly. (www.pianobuyer.com, page 42).
In recent years, Estonia pianos have gained much recognition throughout the world, and features stories have been broadcast or printed in many countries, including by Bloomberg News Network, Forbes, Deutsche Welle, and The Associated Press.