As seen in the Spring 2013 edition of the Steinway Chronicle.
Citing diverse cultural interpretations across the globe, scholars often debate whether music really is a universal language. But for more than 150 distinguished institutions now proudly displaying the All-Steinway School insignia, there is no question about what has become a universal symbol of excellence.
While the Oberlin Conservatory of Music first partnered with Steinway & Sons in 1877, the All- Steinway concept was officially adopted about 20 years ago. “Steinway & Sons recognized that institutions like Oberlin, the Juilliard School, the Yale School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music were already using Steinway pianos exclusively,” says Sally Coveleskie, National Director of Institutional Sales at Steinway & Sons in New York City. “From this illustrious core of institutions where the world’s foremost musicians and teachers were already using our pianos, it wasn’t inconceivable that other schools would want to emulate them in terms of examining their own piano inventories.”
With more institutions purchasing large numbers of new Steinway pianos, the company discovered a unique way to acknowledge their efforts.
“The ‘All-Steinway School’ captures the same spirit of excellence expressed in Steinway’s mission statement,” she says. “What our most coveted trademark tells the world is that this school is committed to excellence, just as we have been for 160 years.”
Steinway pianos are exclusive to 97 percent of all pianists performing with orchestras around the world, as well as 1,600 musicians who are designated Steinway Artists.
Dr. Robert Blocker, Dean of the Yale School of Music, notes that Steinway pianos are serving young artists (at Yale) who are already launching their careers “and the thing that we appreciate so much is that these are the pianos they will find in world competitions and centers throughout the United States.”
“It reflects on your program, it reflects on everything as being committed to the best,” adds Dr. Richard Gipson, Director of the School of Music at Texas Christian University, home of the Van Cliburn Competition.
All-Steinway Schools are divided into three categories: conservatories, colleges & universities, and other schools of distinction. At an All-Steinway School each student is guaranteed to perform and rehearse on Steinway instruments. Institutions must follow Steinway maintenance guidelines, and are subject to periodic inspections by factory representatives.
Steinway develops a customized strategic plan to manage inventories, in addition to offering technical services, support with fundraising, financing and public relations. “Our comprehensive approach addresses everything to insure that students and faculty members have the best pianos possible.” Coveleskie says.
Having an inventory plan in hand, schools can offer potential donors much more than the aesthetic beauty of the instruments. “Non-musicians who evaluate the program strictly from an investor’s point of view usually cite value, durability and appreciation of equipment,” she explains. “They choose Steinway for pragmatic as well as artistic reasons.”
Wanda L. Bass, a banker, philanthropist and arts patron who passed away in 2008, made international news with the single largest donation of 105 new Steinway pianos to Oklahoma City University.
Other landmarks in the storied history of the All-Steinway program include the 2007 purchase of 141 pianos by the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York — Potsdam for $3.8 million, followed two years later with the single largest order of 165 Steinway instruments for more than $4 million by the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. The number of All-Steinway Schools recently reached the important milestone of 150 institutions when the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music at Kent State University completed its $2.7 million purchase of 70 new pianos.
Given a strong emphasis on excellence, it comes as no surprise that the program has defied geographic boundaries through the years. The amazing assembly of All-Steinway Schools attests to a collective distinction quite unlike any other worldwide initiative:
The Central Conservatory of Music, School of Piano in Beijing, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Wales, Leeds College of Music in England, University of South Africa in Pretoria, University of Victoria in Canada, Amadeus International School of Music in Austria, Rimsky Korsakov School in Russia, Qatar Music Academy in Doha and the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico in San Juan.
“We’d like to thank our many partners in the global community for sharing in our rich tradition and history,” says Coveleskie.