A Visit to the Steinway & Sons Piano Factory

I sometimes take it for granted that as musicians we have an intrinsic ability to appreciate a truly fine instrument. It is more than just recognizing the mechanical precision or the aesthetic beauty of something that is so well designed. There is this appreciation that runs much deeper than simply knowing that you are playing on something that sonically projects your every feeling and emotion to an accuracy that makes it sound almost effortless to those listening. Rather, it is an appreciation for the craftsmen and women who posses the raw talent and passion for creating something that so brilliantly designed; an excellence in function capable of breaking down physical barriers and allowing a musician to express themselves to the very peak of their ability and oftentimes even beyond. We are profoundly interwoven in almost a co-dependent sense, for we as musicians are unable to reach our horizons without the artisan and the artisan in turn relies on the musician who expresses their genius on the instrument and therefore pushes them to the highest level of craftsmanship, innovation and sound quality.

A Steinway grand piano has over 12,000 parts and it takes in upwards of a year to build by hand. The dedication is to a singular ideal: to make the finest pianos in the world. Quality is a benchmark that is never compromised, whether it is the careful selection of the finest woods or simply the wisdom in not rushing a process that demands patience and acute attention to detail. The integrity is to the quality of the instrument and the result is not just a fine piano, but a Steinway.

The Steinway & Sons Piano Factory was built in Long Island City, NY about 135 years ago. Recently, they gave my son a tour of their factory. Interestingly, it was once its own town called “Steinway Village” complete with its own factory, employees housing, post office, schools, lending library, volunteer fire department and parks. I wanted to share this experience with those of you who follow my page because as musicians owe a great deal of appreciation to the master instrument builder; the one who produces the very thing that allows so many of us to express ourselves through music. The artist’s work can invariably be seen and heard by the listener but who sees the work of the craftsman? How does one even begin to appreciate the time and attention to detail that is put into the assembly of a simple hammer or the marriage of to sheets of wood so perfectly that you cannot find where once piece ends and the other begins. How does one create sound so brilliant that it becomes the identifiable hallmark of the instrument itself? The tradition and history handed down for generations continues to add to the sum of what we play and that in turn is what adds richness and depth to music for without it, we would only have a collection of sounds.

Click the first file below and take the tour… enjoy!
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