At the end ground-floor office corridor at the Steinway factory in New York, one encounters the biometric–activated control box that will grant to select few access to The Vault, home to the rarest Steinways ever built.
The Vault is an invitation-only, ultra-secure selection room for Steinway Limited Editions and select peerless instruments. Each Steinway (The Vault presently houses seven) is lit individually in a “vignette,” with lighting tailored to each veneer. Visitors can then proceed from each singular instrument to the next without distracted focus from its neighbors.
The Vault includes the John Lennon “Imagine” Model B Spirio, with reproductions of John Lennon’s drawings and signature. The “Imagine” was created in celebration of what would have been the late Beatle’s seventieth birthday. The “Imagine” features keys modeled after the original white Steinway Lennon gifted to Yoko Ono for her fortieth birthday in 1971.
The Vault also features the pristine silhouette of the Lang Lang Black Diamond Limited Edition, a Model B. Its sonorous tonality is the perfect match for the incomparable Steinway Artist who musically expresses the inexpressible. Dakota Jackson, the award-winning designer of this Steinway Limited Edition, takes inspiration from the theory that black diamonds are extraterrestrial in origin — the result of an exploding supernova. Jackson views the Black Diamond’s brilliance and rarity as simpatico with the genius and spirit of virtuoso Lang Lang.
Nearby are two members of the Steinway Crown Jewels, individually manufactured grand and upright pianos featuring particularly fine veneers. First is a Santos Rosewood exotic wood finish bookmatched single-log grand, as well as a Macassar ebony exotic wood finish, both Model Bs. These are joined by the Onyx Duet: the Steinway with a dual personality. The Duet features an all-ebony finish on the exterior and Macassar Ebony on the underside of the lid and inner rim. The effect is pure East Indian elegance, with fine grain markings juxtaposed against a classic ebony finish.
In The Vault’s lounge, you’ll discover a Model M Teague Sketch 1111, a masterpiece of mid-century modernism and a celebration of the Centenary Steinway, designed by American industrial designer and architect Walter Dorwin Teague to commemorate Steinway’s one-hundredth anniversary in 1953. The term “mid-century modern” was coined by Cara Greenberg in her seminal book Mid-Century Modern: Furniture of the 1950s; the movement’s clean lines evoke the post–World War II landscape, spanning architecture, furniture, and technology — prizing function and rejecting embellishment. Pops of color and a connection with nature round out the aesthetic.
Each of these previously mentioned instruments has the distinction of being a Steinway & Sons Spirio, the world’s finest high-resolution player piano. A masterpiece of artistry and engineering, Spirio enables you to enjoy performances captured by great pianists — played with such nuance, power, and passion that they are utterly indistinguishable from a live performance.
Rounding out The Vault’s collection is the one-of-a-kind art-case Steinway Model D “Pictures at an Exhibition.” Designed and painted by artist and Steinway Artist Paul Wyse in 2012, the instrument and work of art unites Modest Mussorgsky’s immortal work for solo piano with classical painting, Russian history, and meticulous Steinway craftsmanship in a historic first. “Pictures at an Exhibition” re-creates the original Hartmann paintings that inspired Mussorgsky to write the piece. The wedding of Wyse’s experience as both a pianist and a painter has contaminated his pianism in the sense that he reevaluated his approach to Mussorgsky. “The way I play the piece now has changed quite a bit from how I used to before this project,” Wyse explains. “I’m not afraid to create an echo effect with the pedal or to use a scale as a kind of streak in the music as opposed to a series of pearled notes. When I work in paint, areas of blur are an intrinsic part of the character, and approaching Mussorgsky from that artistic standpoint has brought me to the conviction that the music was intended to be that way, too.”
The Vault remains invitation-only. Your local Steinway showroom can provide more information. Visit steinway.com/find-location.