Steinway is one of the most well known piano manufacturers in the world. They have made hundreds of thousands of pianos since they were founded in 1853, and they are still making plenty more to this day. Some of their creations gained legendary or mysterious status such as Steinway D-274 serial no 451728 (more details below) or the 19th century model 483. With high quality and well crafted bodies, the company leads the market with a huge standing and hundreds of musicians exclusively playing their products.
An On-Going History
Founded in 1853, Steinway started its roots in Manhattan, New York with the German piano builder Heinrich Steinweg and a small shop. The company grew substantially and quickly due to their high quality pianos and attention to detail. This soon led to the opening of two factories, one in New York that supplied the Americas and one in Hamburg, Germany which effectively supplied the rest of the world.
Steinway has always been known for their quality, but they have also been known for their inventions that have moved the piano industry and creation forward to what it is today. In 1857 alone, Steinway was granted many patents for his work, totalling up to an astounding 126. This moved towards a booming 1860s, where Steinway was producing up to 1,800 pianos a year in the New York factory alone. It wasn’t long, with such a flourishing business, that the next few generations of Steinway were bringing the patented inventions to light.
Steinway Village was established in the late 1800s by Wilhelm Steinweg as a professional community to host a brand new factory and their workers. The town had its very own sawmill and foundry as well as its own housing for the Steinway workers and their families. The town also featured many of the normal buildings to support a community such as a school and even a fire station. Steinway Village has since become part of Long Island City with the factory still standing and manufacturing for Steinway to the present day.
In 1972, the company was sold to CBS after a long series of protests and loss of interest in buyers. From then it was bounced around a few more times between owners. In 1985 it was sold to a lot of boston investors that moved on to found the Steinway Musical Properties to preserve the craft of the magnificent pianos. From there it merged to become Steinway Musical Instruments which still manufactures today, continuing to make many more pianos for musicians all around the world.
Steinway D-274 451782 and other rare models
One of the rarest known pianos ever made by the company is Steinway #451782 built in 1977. What makes this beautiful piece of work so unique was that it was signed by both Steinway brothers. The meaning of the signatures was huge in the company, marking them as the best quality the piano could be in their eyes. Since the two brothers rarely signed the same piano, this could be potentially seen either a seal of quality or simply a form of display of their personal affection towards this specific instrument.
Another known piano made by Steinway was the first one they have ever made in America. It is known as 483 since he had made 482 pianos in his time in Germany before traveling to New York. It was made in 1853 and promptly sold to a New York family for only $500. Today it is on display in a museum in Seesum, Germany, where Heinrich Steinweg first starting making pianos before he moved to New York.
Steinway also made specialty pianos that were crafted to a brilliant extravagance, many of which were crafted to immortalize a milestone in the company’s progress. The first milestone piano was the 100,000th piano made by the company in 1903, which had been gifted to the white. Though in 1938 it was replaced by the 300,00th piano, one of which still remains there to this day.
Some of the other very limited editions made by Steinway included the most recent addition, the 125th Hamburg location anniversary piano which was crafted in 2005. Another anniversary piano was built in 2003 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the company as a whole. There are also two custom made pianos; the Alma-Tadema of 1887, and the Sound of Harmony of 2008. Each of these pianos were known for their amazing creativity and craftsmanship for their times.
Steinway Artist Program
There are many artists that have been known to play on a Steinway piano dating all the way back to 1872. The Steinway Artist program came to be with the touring of Anton Rubinstein in 1872 to 1873, where he exclusively played only Steinway crafted pianos. The program was established for artists who wish to exclusively use Steinway pianos for public performances. They have been known to remove members from the program if they even play another piano publically. There are over 1,800 artists within the program, most of which can be viewed on the website.
Since I am unable to list all 1,800 artists, I can list some of the more known artists that have played on this beautiful piano. There are plenty of artists of today and of the past and who come from multiple genre backgrounds that are on the artist list. Such artists include; Harry Connick Jr. , Evgeny Kissin, Daniel Barenboim, Billy Joel, Lang Lang, Diana Krall, Benjamin Britten, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Vladimir Horowitz, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Irving Berlin