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Pianomania
Auf der Suche nach dem perfekten Klang (2009)

Film by Robert Cibis / Lilian Franck
with the piano tuner Stefan Knüpfer and the pianists
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang,
Till Fellner
and others
Sound by Sabine Panossian / David Benedikt / Ina Nikolow / Niklas Kammertöns / Ansgar Frerich

In cooperation with Babylon

As the chief technician for Steinway & Sons, Austria, the trained piano builder and concert technician, Stefan Knüpfer prepares the instruments that star pianists like Lang Lang, Alfred Brendel, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Julius Drake and Till Fellner will perform on and make recordings with. And because Bach sounds different to Schubert, Brendel hits the keys differently to Lang Lang and Aimard, and because each piano also has its own sound, Knüpfer is at the centre of this documentary film. The two filmmakers, Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis accompanied him at work with a camera and a microphone for a number of years. They observed him tapping, screwing, tightening. They went with him as he went on a hurried search of the city for the right hammer and they were there when he mischievously introduced the comic duo, Igudesman & Joo, to an adventurous new combination of a piano and a violin. But above all they listened. Not only when pianos were played, but also when Knüpfer, who isn't only a perfectionist and a passionate technician, but also has a sense of humour and is a good communicator, discussed tuning, tone and sound with his customers. And today, when Cibis and Franck modestly state that Pianomania is a film “about love, perfection and a little bit of madness”, one has to disagree. Pianomania is one of the most beautiful, adventurous and amusing films about music that was ever filmed.

Pianomania – The Search for the Perfect Tone has been shortlisted for the German Film Awards 2011.