The making of a Steinway piano is a time-honored process involving the hands of many skilled craftspeople over the course of almost a full year. Steinway & Sons pianos are built in just two factories worldwide – one in Astoria, NY and one in Hamburg, Germany.
Both factories have been building pianos for well over a century, and although Steinway has always been at the cutting edge in utilizing and perfecting the latest technology where it could make the piano better, we have found that certain things are simply better when done by skilled craftspeople than by a machine.
For that reason, many parts of the process in building a Steinway have remained essentially unchanged for generations. So much so, that we were able to take decades-old audio from a narrated factory tour by the late John H. Steinway (great-grandson of Henry E. Steinway, who founded our great company in 1853) and use it as the narration for footage shot at the Steinway NY factory in 2011 by Ben Niles, producer of the documentary film “Note by Note” (http://www.notebynotethemovie.com).
Enjoy this look inside the Steinway New York factory, narrated in detail by the late, great John Steinway.
.1782 ~ On this day Mozart wrote a letter to his father about Muzio Clementi. He said: “Clementi plays well, as far as execution with the right hand goes. His greatest strength lies in his passages in 3rds. Apart from that, he has not a kreuzer’s worth of taste or feeling – in short he is a mere mechanicus.”
. 1921 ~ The opening of Town Hall in New York City, an important new concert hall
. 1926 ~ Ray Price, Singer
. 1926 ~ Morton Feldman, American composer, born in NYC, New York
. 1928 ~ Vladimir Horowitz debuted as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was the very same night that Sir ThomasBeecham gave his first public performance in the United States.
. 1930 ~ Glenn Yarbrough, Singer with The Limeliters
. 1933 ~ Václav Suk, Czech-born Russian composer and violinist, died at the age of 71
. 1939 ~ William Lee Golden, Singer with The Oak Ridge Boys
. 1939 ~ The Ink Spots gained national attention after five years together, as they recorded If I Didn’t Care. Many other standards by the group soon followed.
. 1946 ~ Cynthia Robinson, Singer, trumpeter with Sly and the Family Stone
. 1949 – Arthur Godfrey and His Friends was first seen on CBS-TV this day. The program stayed on the network for seven years.
. 1959 ~ Per Gessle, Guitarist, singer with Roxette
. 1963 ~ Songwriter Bob Dylan sang Blowin’ In the Wind on the BBC radio presentation of “The Madhouse on Castle Street”. The song soon became one of the classics of the 1960s protest movement.
. 1985 ~ After a record 24 weeks as the #1 album in the nation, Prince (now known as The Artist Previously Known as Prince) slipped to the #2 spot with Purple Rain. Replacing Prince at the top spot: ‘The Boss’ BruceSpringsteen’sBorn In the USA, which spent 24 weeks waiting for Purple Rain to fall.
. 1995 ~ Laurel McGoff, American singer
. 2001 ~ Luis Floriano Bonfa, the master guitarist and composer who helped found Bossa Nova music, died of cancer at the age of 78. Bonfa, who was born in Rio de Janeiro in Oct. 17, 1922, began composing in the 1940s and launched his career as a solo artist in 1952. Better known abroad than at home, Bonfa became internationally famous for his contributions to the soundtrack of Marcel Camus’ 1959 classic film “Black Orpheus.” The film introduced an international audience to Bossa Nova – a more sophisticated and less percussive samba style – and made Bonfa and fellow composer Antonio Carlos Jobim stars. “Bonfa plays the guitar like no other, in a very personal, charismatic style. His guitar is a little orchestra,” the late composer Jobim once said. His reputation grew further when he was a featured performer at the Bossa Nova festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1962. He was even more famous for his more than 500 compositions especially Manhade Carnaval andSamba de Orpheu. Placido Domingo, Julio Iglesias, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley recorded songs written by Bonfa. In recent years, his productivity slowed. His last major label release “The Bonfa Magic,” was record in 1991.
. 2001 ~ Opera singer Kyra Vayne, a star of the 1940s and 1950s whose talents were rediscovered in the 1990s, died at age 84. The Russian-born soprano was born in St. Petersburg. Vayne fled the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution with her family and was eight years old when her family settled in London. She began a successful opera career in the 1940s, and sang for allied troops during World War II. She later joined the Russian Opera Company, then based at London’s Savoy Theater. Her career collapsed in 1957 when her agent, Eugene Iskoldoff, committed suicide, and for the next 35 years she worked as a secretary for the British Broadcasting Corp.
In the early 1990s, a music company released four recordings of her voice, leading the U.S. music magazine “Fanfare” to ask, “How is it possible that such a singer has not come down to us as one of the century’s most celebrated sopranos?” Soon afterward, Arcadia Books published her autobiography, “A Voice Reborn,” which tenor Placido Domingo described as having “all the elements of an opera.” At the end of 1999, nearly 80 years after she fled Russia, Vayne was invited to perform at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater to mark the new millennium – her first public performance in 40 years. “For me to sing at the Bolshoi is beyond any fairy tale,” she said at the time. “I am not worried about singing in public again after so long, but I am fearful of the emotional impact.” Vayne never married and had no children.
. 2003 ~ Maurice Gibb, a member of the famed disco band the Bee Gees, died at a Miami Beach hospital. He was 53. Gibb, joined with his older brother and his twin to harmonize their way to becoming one of the best selling musical groups ever. Gibb played bass and keyboard for the group, whose name is short for the Brothers Gibb. In a 1978 interview with TG Magazine, Gibb lamented the perception that the Bee Gees were only a disco band. “People accuse us of being nothing more than a disco band now,” Gibb said. “But they don’t know what they’re talking about. If you listen to our records, you’ll find that there’s dance music. But there are also ballads like More Than A Woman. And there are some very beautiful, undanceable songs, too.” The Bee Gees – twins Maurice and Robin, and their older brother Barry – have lived in South Florida since the late 1970s. Their younger brother, Andy, who had a successful solo career, died in 1988 at age 30 from a heart ailment. Chris Hutchins, a writer and former press agent for the Bee Gees, said Maurice was “very much a tormented soul.” “He was not the star (of the Bee Gees), and he knew it, he felt it,” Hutchins told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. Known for their close harmonies and original sound, the Bee Gees are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and their 1977 contributions to the “Saturday Night Fever” album made it the best selling movie soundtrack ever with more than 40 million copies sold. Among their disco hits on that album are Stayin’ Alive, More Than a Woman and How Deep Is Your Love and Night Fever. The group won seven Grammy Awards. The Bee Gees last album was in 2001, entitled “This Is Where I Came In.” The family emigrated from England to Australia in 1958, and the brothers soon gained fame as a teen pop group. They returned to England in the 1960s, and their first four albums contained hits such as 1941 New York Mining Disaster, To Love Somebody and their first U.S. number one song, 1971’s How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.
The Bee Gees followed “Saturday Night Fever” with the 1978 album “Spirits Having Flown” which sold 20 million copies. The brothers wrote and produced songs for Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwicke in the 1980s. They also wrote the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton hit Islands in the Stream. The Bee Gees released three studio albums and went on a world tour in the 1990s. The live album from the tour “One Night Only,” sold more than 1 million albums in the United States. The Bee Gees run a music production company in Miami called Middle Ear Studios. Gibb’s first wife was British singer Lulu. He and his second wife, Yvonne, were married for more than 20 years and had two children.