November 1988

  • Edward Rothstein, music critic for the New York Times, publishes in that month’s issue of the Smithsonian Magazine the article called “To Make a Piano of Note it Takes More than Tools”. In the interview, given for the article, Steinway & Sons co-owner Robert P. Birmingham tells the story of buying the company: “I was looking for a business and we heard Steinway was for sale. The attraction was a tremendous trade name with a product equal to it, which is a very rare thing. I can’t say we bought it for musical reasons, but once we got in we began to smell the flowers.”
  • In the same article, the factory manager Daniel T. Koenig shares his perspective: ”The methodology of building a piano is very well documented. It can be learned in a textbook manner. Continuity is insured by doing the best we can to debrief the older people in the factory”.
  • Finally, Edward Rothstein provides the summary: ”there are those in the musical world who still harbor misgivings about its current management and direction. [...] the Steinway, with its bright upper notes and clear projection, has come to define the modern “public” piano sound. If the Steinway declines, so will the sound we hear from recordings and concert halls, the expectations we have of compositions, and even the very desire to hear the instrument that defines our musical heritage.”