Steinway: An American Story

In 1853, German immigrant Henry E. Steinway founded Steinway & Sons in New York City with the goal of building the best piano possible. In the pursuit of that goal, he developed the unparalleled steinway and built a legacy that stands as one of America’s greatest success stories. 

Steinway & Sons factory, New York, 1916

Henry E. Steinway, founder, Steinway & Sons

Sergei Rachmaninoff, Steinway Immortal

Steinway & Sons brochure

Steinway through the years

Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg completed his first fortepiano secretly in the kitchen of his house in Germany. In 1850, he immigrated to America with his sons in order to pursue a passion for tonal excellence and create a more perfect piano. Three years later, he became Henry E. Steinway and founded Steinway & Sons

Before there was Carnegie Hall, there was Steinway Hall. In 1866, Steinway Hall was the premier concert venue in New York City. It was home to the New York Philharmonic for over 25 years. Steinway Hall created such strong marketing success for Steinway instruments that competing manufacturers built their own concert halls in failed attempts to draw from the famous pianists and concertgoers attracted to the Steinway venue. Steinway Hall continues to build its legacy at its new location, seen here.

As a result, Steinways have become a touchstone throughout U.S. culture and history. In 1938, the 300,000th Steinway was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on behalf of the Steinway family. The instrument was meant to replace the 100,000th Steinway gifted to the White House in 1903. Theodore Steinway had the piano specially crafted with a gold leaf decoration representing the five musical forms indigenous to America. The instrument’s gilded mahogany legs were carved to look like American eagles to truly embody the American spirit.

Between 1941 and 1953, Steinway & Sons parachuted an estimated 3,000 specially designed upright pianos known as “Victory Verticals” to American soldiers fighting abroad in World War II. The soldiers would gather around the Steinway and sing popular American tunes reminding them of home. This not only united them but lifted their spirits during the war.

Throughout American history, the Steinway name has woven itself into the hearts of the American people through its dedication to high quality. Today, it has become a center for music and culture, and provides an outlet for all creative minds. 

The 300,000th Steinway at the White House

Van Cliburn performs at the White House in 1972.

Steinway “Victory Verticals” 

Just as founder Henry E. Steinway integrated himself into American culture, so too has the Steinway name become synonymous with American patriotism. Steinways have served as comfort during times of hardship and entertainment in times of need. Steinway & Sons is all–American, from the initial craftsmanship of the piano’s rim to its final polish before departure from our factory in New York.

A century and a half later, the Steinway is still handcrafted with pride in the U.S.A. 

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