Wilhelm Schimmel (1854-1946) founded the Schimmel Piano Company in 1885 in Leipzig under the name Wilhelm Schimmel Pianofortefabrik. Wilhelm was a well- trained and experienced carpenter and piano technician by profession and a technical genius and inventor by nature.
From the very beginning, Wilhelm followed his motto “Quality will prevail” and thanks to his very rigid quality policy the young company grew fast and became known for quality and design.
His efforts and success resulted in many awards and early export sales. Several royal families and nobilities soon appointed Schimmel, and Schimmel won several medals at Trade Fairs and Exhibitions. At one such event a newspaper wrote, “It was this upright, the tone of which had first captured attention, and after testing the performance of the instrument, we must confess that, in its sonority as well as delicacy and beauty of tone, it is in no way inferior to the best uprights of the select few top-selling international ‘name brands’.” In the meantime, Wilhelm’s brother, Fridolin Schimmel, had started his own piano company, Schimmel & Company, (formerly Schimmel & Nelson) in Faribault, Minnesota and was challenging his brother on the other side of the Atlantic. Being of the same nature, he was also a successful piano manufacturer and held patents for inventions in many other industries as well, including wood preservation.
On October 29, 1912, Fridolin sent this letter (pictured below) to his brother Wilhelm from his hometown in Faribault, Minnesota. One of the passages reads, "Things are going well in my new company. I have already made two technical drawings for a short and tall upright. As soon as I have time, I will design a grand. Our pianos are well respected here."
Years later, in 1927, the world economy was going through a difficult phase known as The Great Depression, culminating two years later in the stock market crash on Black Thursday. Fridolin's piano company did not survive. Meanwhile back in Germany, Wilhelm Schimmel, retired from active management of his company, passing the mantle to his son Arno Wilhelm Schimmel. Unfortunately, he died the same year.
Starting his generation’s era with this immense challenge, Arno reacted quickly and actively by moving the company to Braunschweig, Germany where circumstances were more favorable than in Leipzig. This decision turned out to be a very fortunate one because 20 years later, after World War II, Leipzig was part of East Germany, whereas Braunschweig was in West Germany. Not to be forgotten, Arno kept contact with Fridolin, who was still working with pianos in the United States. Arno and Fridolin worked together to re-establish the Schimmel brand in North America. Sadly, in 1953, Fridolin passed away.
Arno powered on and showed his immense talent by developing several very successful designs, patents and instruments in his first few years at the helm. With their musical abilities and the modern designs, Arno’s pianos were second to none and in 1958 Schimmel pianos became the world’s best-selling instruments of German origin.
In 1959, at the age of 25, Nikolaus Wilhelm Schimmel joined the company to learn from his father Arno and slowly begin taking on the responsibilities of the company. Before he joined, he had spent many years in piano stores and factories in Europe and the United States learning all aspects of the piano business.
In 1961, Arno died suddenly and unexpectedly, and Nikolaus had to assume responsibility for the company. Based on his clear vision Nikolaus continued and built on his father’s, grand-father's and great-uncle's achievements.
The Wirtschaftswunder (Economic Miracle) of West Germany was in full bloom and Schimmel once again had to expand its capacity and facilities. Over several years, Nikolaus built the most modern production facility in Germany and provided the additional capacity so desperately needed.
In his era, Nikolaus also created outstanding piano designs and, in cooperation with renowned artist and professor Luigi Colani, grands that were monuments of art like the Pegasus. In addition, modern technology and new thinking was introduced into production: Schimmel‘s CAPE-System (Computer-Assisted Piano Engineering) was the first-ever virtual device to design pianos. Being a marketing genius, Nikolaus made Schimmel not only the number-one-selling German piano but also the best-known German brand.
At the turn of this century, Nikolaus started to pass on responsibilities to the next generation and in 2003, Viola Schimmel and her husband Hannes Schimmel-Vogel took the mantle from Nikolaus, who still to this day regularly visits the factory. Viola Schimmel and Hannes Schimmel-Vogel’s first moves were to expand the model portfolio through Schimmel’s premium strategy that led to the Schimmel Konzert Series. At the same time, a new production facility in Kalisz (Poland) was opened in order to be able to offer competitive value instruments made in Europe. This soon resulted in a series of record sales years in North America.
In the following years, this brand and model strategy was continuously developed and is reflected in Schimmel’s current family of brands: Schimmel Konzert and Schimmel Classic, (both made in Germany) and Wilhelm Schimmel (made in Europe.)
Since 2003, Schimmel has continued to register many patents and protections of registered designs. Aside from the musical aspects of the Schimmel model line-up, the focus has also been on the aesthetics of the instruments. Schimmel’s instruments feature a unique combination of technical innovations and cabinet designs. These efforts have resulted in Schimmel being the most awarded piano brand from Germany.
The spirit of these founders, Wilhelm and Fridolin Schimmel, has deeply inspired the present Schimmel Piano Company to preserve the family tradition, by carrying Fridolin Schimmel's name. Fridolin Schimmel grand and upright pianos have been successfully developed by Schimmel for the educational level of the market. Solid, robust and affordable, Fridolin Schimmel is an excellent choice for institutional and home use, due to the favorable price-performance ratio.