Freedom’s Sound – Full Video


NARRATOR: From small villages in
sub-Saharan Africa to the bustling cities of the Asian sub-continent, from Latin
America to China and Eastern Europe people everywhere are striving to improve
their lives. People seeking the same things:
opportunity to learn, an identity and ownership that allows them to prosper, a
chance to earn a living for themselves and their families, to use their imaginations,
to take risks and possibly fail but to increase their options and to reap the
rewards if they succeed. Join us now to see what can happen when
ordinary people have the tools to help themselves. Major funding for this program
has been provided by The Barney Family Foundation and
The Green Children Foundation. Somewhere on earth, at this very moment, a
child is beginning its journey through life. Two hundred and fifty babies are born
every minute; fifteen-thousand an hour; 132 million a year, each and every year. And among them may be the potential to
cure disease, to reinvent the future, or to change the course of world history
because people are the world’s ultimate resource. Sometimes miracles occur in the most
unlikely places. This small country has been
dominated by its neighbors and denied freedom for most of its history. In the center of its capital, Tallinn,
remains one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Northern Europe – a testament to
what can be created through free trade. Since its independence from the Soviet
Union in 1991 sweeping economic reforms have transformed Estonia. It’s now the most competitive new member
of the European Union and the Wall Street Journal ranks it as one of the freest
economies in the world. Johan Norberg is a Swedish author and
scholar specializing in global trade issues. JOHAN NORBERG: Just fifteen years ago,
this was a poor part of the Soviet communist dictatorship. There were bread lines, one thousand
percent inflation – but then with the right institutions, democracy, free trade,
free markets – suddenly people had the opportunity to improve their lives with
entrepreneurial creativity. And now this place is booming with the
fastest growth rates in Europe. So it shows the rest of the world that
freedom works. NARRATOR: In an older neighborhood on the
outskirts of Tallinn is the home of one of Estonia’s most dramatic success stories. The Estonia Piano Company is now producing
an instrument that rivals the finest pianos on the market. JOHAN NORBERG: People everywhere are
entrepreneurs. They want to produce, buy and sell things
because they want to improve their lives for themselves and for their families. Estonians have always done that. They were creative, entrepreneurial up
until the Communist occupation. NARRATOR: For fifty years Estonia was
ruled by the Soviet Union, its economy stifled by the central control of
production and distribution. Although Estonians won their independence
from Russia after the First World War, they lost it again to the Soviets during
the Second. In those bleak times, the Estonia Piano
Company manufactured instruments only for the Soviet Republics. Like most young Estonian men, Urmass
Orunurm was drafted into the Soviet Army. Today he’s a master craftsman, but still
remembers the hardships of his youth. NARRATOR: Jaanus Randveer is also a master
piano craftsman. He has worked at the Estonia Piano Company
for 45 years. He will never forget the Soviet era. JOHAN NORBERG: For a company here in
Estonia before the reforms, they were stuck in a planned economy. It was impossible for them to get the kind
of goods, the supplies that they needed. With the abolishment of price controls, of
protectionism, of Communism, suddenly this entrepreneurial spirit springs up and
creates magical wonders. NARRATOR: But even with Estonia’s new
independence and the eventual success of painful economic reforms, the Estonia
Piano Company and its craftsmen remained trapped in the past. For forty years they had built pianos
exclusively for the state. Standards were low but it was a steady
business. They were forced to buy most of their
materials from within the Soviet Union and they could only sell pianos within the
Soviet Union. There was no competition, no incentive. NARRATOR: The instruments were sturdy, but
hardly world-class. Production dropped from five hundred
pianos a year to a low of forty-nine in 1994. The National Concert hall in Tallinn –
Urmass is here with his daughter, Triin. He’s on assignment. Indrek Laul, concert pianist and graduate
of the Julliard School of Music, is practicing for a performance. He’s playing a new Estonia Piano, and Urmass is
here to ensure it is in perfect condition. But Indrek Laul is not just any
concert pianist. As a young man in Estonia, he worked at
the piano factory demonstrating new instruments for customers. As the company continued to struggle and
the value of its shares continued to drop, Indrek bought as much stock as he could. In 2003, he gained controlling interest in
the troubled company. He’s now its president. When he took over his daunting task was to
keep the company alive. His answer was “quality.” INDREK LAUL: Piano is bought once
in a lifetime, and so they want to get the most beautiful piano sound, the most
beautiful quality piano they can get. I thought that the best we can do is offer
the most quality instrument that we can make. JOHAN NORBERG: Centrally planned economies
don’t work because you can only get people to do the same old thing, to repeat what
they’ve already done, the same old piano, for example. What you need is the new entrepreneurs,
the innovators with strange new ideas who come in from the side, like this guy who
comes with a brilliant idea for a new piano, introduces hundreds of changes, and
then suddenly is going global selling all over the world. NARRATOR: Today, the Estonia Piano Company
benefits from the finest quality imports and techniques from around the world. Wood for the soundboard comes from the
cold climates of Switzerland and Austria. Slow growing trees make narrow rings that
help carry the sound. Keys are carved from spruce, making them
light and sensitive. The keys are the driving force of the
piano action, which is imported from Germany. All the bass strings are handmade at
the factory. Copper wire adds width, which
lowers the tone. Master craftsmen shape and soften
the hammers until the sound is rich and concentrated. Every piano is “broken in” by this
unique machine. The strings are stretched. It is then sent for tuning and voicing. JOHAN NORBERG: Now in a new,
free Estonia, having abolished all the tariffs and
become a part of the global economy, it’s possible for an Estonian Piano Company,
for example, to buy the best goods, the best supplies, the best material from
whichever source it happens to be wherever in the world. Then they can also improve their goods and
sell it to the rest of the world. INDREK LAUL: We still have 88 keys,
and the amount of strings we have on the piano is the same. Everything else has been changed. It’s a completely different instrument
from what it was. NARRATOR: To help save the company, Indrek
enlisted the help of his father, Venno Laul. An internationally known choir director,
Venno works along side the craftsmen, supervising the many changes and ensuring
quality. During World War II, he was only five
years old when the Germans imprisoned his father and executed him. NARRATOR: Estonia Pianos are now sold
worldwide, and rank close to Steinway in quality at about half the price. JOHAN NORBERG: We can clearly see that a
great benefit of free trade is cheaper goods, which means the consumers they gain
from it, but we often forget that the workers also gain so much. INDREK LAUL: We have created the
Estonia sound. It’s like no other piano sound
you can find. It has that deep, romantic, rich tone that
for me represents not only Estonia piano making, but also Estonia musical culture. I don’t think without free trade our
company would even exist right now.

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