Piano rentals in Prague: Czech music heritage at your fingertips

The non-profit organization Czech Music Fund rents Petrofs and other Czech-made pianos at a reasonable price.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 09.06.2021 12:33:00 (updated on 19.02.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

The Czech lands are considered a cradle of classical music: Mozart debuted his famous opera “Don Giovanni” in the Estates Theatre in Old Town, the Lobkowicz family of nobles were patrons of Beethoven, and world-renowned piano brands have been manufactured here for centuries – did you know Paul McCartney and Ray Charles both held audiences captive on a Czech Petrof?

Today music education remains an integral part of the Czech educational experience, and many teachers report an uptick in online lessons during the recent outbreak. Not surprising then that another piano-related industry has also seen a recent boom in business: piano rentals.

Since its establishment in 1998, the Czech Music Fund (Český Hudební Fond) has provided services that are an inseparable part of musical life in the Czech Republic: The non-profit is the largest rental of pianos and grand pianos in the Czech Republic, currently lending almost 3,000 instruments throughout the country, with branches in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, and Lanškroun.

“In total, we have lent about 2,700 pianos throughout the country. The oldest contract, which is still current and really unique, is from 1968,” says Radomír Kubík, director of the fund. He says their regular clients include the local filmmaking industry, music schools, and some unnamed celebrities.

In recent years the demand for piano rentals from foreigners living in the Czech Republic has seen such a significant increase that the Fond has expanded their English-speaking staff. Kubík explained how foreigners can rent a piano from the fund and why playing on a real piano and not a keyboard can make a big difference.

He also believes that when it comes to beginner lessons, classical music, with its defined characteristics and rules helps early learners interpret sheet music and identify notes and tones, knowledge that is an important foundation moving into different musical genres and instruments. To play classical music he recommends a proper upright or grand piano.

I always tell parents kids shouldn’t learn on electric keyboards because they have a different feeling and response than a proper upright or grand piano,” Kubík says, explaining that children and beginners who learn on a keyboard often play too softly or miss notes on a scale when switching to the classical instrument.

While he believes that an instrument can be an investment in a child’s general education, he understands that a child's passion for playing piano can be short-lived. Renting can still prove a reasonable value and solve the problem of what to do with the instrument when your child loses interest.

The Český Hudební Fond’s selection of Förster, Scholze, Weinbach, and Petrof pianos can be rented for between CZK 420 to 800/month, a fraction of the price you’d pay to rent from Petrof directly or purchase one of these heritage instruments, which can cost more than CZK 100,000 (approx. USD 5,000).

Renting can also be less expensive than buying a semi professional keyboard with weighted keys as you can return the piano after six months of use though the typical length of rentals for customers of the fund tends to fall between 2-3 years and 8-12 years.

Potential pianists are able to choose what they'd like to rent before going through the long transport process. “At each branch, we always have 20 to 30 pianos and grand pianos available, which the customer can try and choose the right one that suits them,” Kubík says. The Prague branch is located in the Smíchov district.

All of the pianos are insured and must be signed for by a permanent resident of the Czech Republic. Applicants for a loan must either have a guarantor or pay a deposit (this condition generally applies to all, including citizens of the Czech Republic). Foreigners on a long-term visa can either ask a permanent resident to act as a guarantor or pay a deposit of CZK 25,000. For foreigners with a long-term stay, the deposit is higher (CZK 40,000).

Instruments leave the fund tuned and inspected by experts. The fund works closely with a family company that can provide transport for its customers and they can also mediate the move but the cost of the move is the responsibility of the customer. Piano moving services in Prague start at around CZK 2,000 per move and prices are calculated according to the size of the piano and level of difficulty (eg. first vs. sixth floor, etc.).

Kubík believes that renting a piano offered by the Český Hudební Fond is an investment in your child's well being. “For many families, teaching piano playing is one of the foundations of education,” he says noting that piano gives children valuable skills like memorization, hand-eye coordination, and listening carefully to instruction.

Having a heritage instrument in your home also offers a profound cultural link to the Czech Republic's rich history of classical music and piano. 

This article was written in cooperation with Český hudební fond. The fund is currently offering free rentals for July and August for those who rent during the month of June (which means you don't start paying until September 1, 2021). Read more about our partner content policies here.

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