By: Luisa van der Linde

Werner Stolze is the fourth generation of the Stolzes who builds pianos, but it is not only his profession that is interesting. He and his wife experienced their own miracle.

It’s a nice spring day when I visit the Stolze family in Pretoria. Naomi Stolze welcomes me with a baby on my hip and two little girls who are spooky. Her husband, Werner Wilfried, is a fourth-generation piano builder, one of very few piano builders in South Africa.

Werner learned the art of building pianos, voting and restoring at his father, Wilfried (Kurt) Stolze, learned.

Wilfried Kurt Stolze, himself a master piano builder,’s grandfather was Willy Kurt Hutzelmann. Willy Kurt was born in Eisenberg in 1889 and has a piano company operating there. Kurt’s daughter, Margret Johanna, married Franz Gotward Kurt Stolze and a son, Wilfried Kurt Stolze, was born of this marriage. The Hutzelmann factory was the only piano company to remain in Germany after World War II.

“My family now owns the Hutzelmann factory in the German city of Eisenberg in the province of Turinge. It is this factory, the only one in Eisenberg which is still privately owned, where my father, Wilfried, was trained as a piano builder.
“My father was born in Willemshaven near Eisenberg in Germany in 1941. He remembers how he went with my grandfather during and after the war to vote for people’s pianos. He told me how they were sitting in town in the evenings and watching the forests so nobody saw them from going to vote for pianos. ”
As a six-year-old, Wilfried is with his family from the east of Germany to Wilhelmshaven in the west. The Stolze family had to travel through wooded forests with a horse-drawn carriage.

“My dad says the American soldiers were the friendliest. They once brought avocados and bananas and the Russian army members then tried to cook the avocado pops!
“Some soldiers have bought pianos at the factory to join Russia. My dad told me how my grandfather and grandfather drank vodka with the soldiers when the sale was through. In 1953 my dad came to South Africa with a ship. He was only in Natal, where he settled in the German community near Paulpietersburg. My grandfather’s brother, Alfred Stolze, was already there. From there my father reached Witrivier and opened a shop that sells piano, restores and votes.
“In 1957 my father returned to Germany to teach his craft at grandmother, Willy Kurt Hutzelmann, at the factory. He flew for three nights and four days and had to stop for fuel in Cairo.
“From 1957 to 1961 my father taught his piano academy in Germany. This is where he met his first wife, Erika Stolze.

Publication: Vrouekeur
Issue: November 24, 2017
Page: 26 & 27