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ONE CENTURY IN A BOTTLE
Contents 13 Steinways and Byways News from the world of Steinway & Sons
21 In Memoriam â€Ś Dearly departed musicians
24 Wagner on the Piano: The Music That Time Forgot 30 Steinway at 160 The story of Steinway
38 My First Steinway Four leading pianists recall those special moments â€“ encountering their first significant Steinways.
40 Design as Choreography The making of a new limited edition, the Arabesque
45 The Schools That Love Their Steinways 54 The Steinway Label
Van Cliburn Foundation
58 Tales from the Steinway Halls
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Contents 66 Steinway Artists Rufus Wainwright, Carter Burwell, Cy Coleman, Mitsuko Uchida, and David Greilsammer come under the spotlight.
72 Steinways in Unexpected Places, and Universal Truths 74 Fingers of Fortune With a rich history in both wine and culture, Finger Lakes Wine Country offers vacationers a plethora of possibilities.
80 Helvetian Havens Switzerlandâ€™s Matterhorn-solid stability and prosperous economy provide a safe haven for investors.
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Steinways and Byways News from the world of Steinway & Sons A little Biss of Beethoven, a lot of students
It’s not every day that you have the opportunity to learn from one of the leading pianists of the day. Still fewer have access to a professor at the revered Curtis Institute. But Steinway has teamed up with Steinway Artist Jonathan Biss – who answers to both of those qualifications – and online study service Coursera for an app entitled, “Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas.” And it has attracted in excess of a staggering 25,000 students! Biss, who is in the process of recording all the Beethoven sonatas for the Onyx label, told The New York Times that he had expected the free app to bring in maybe 500 loggers-on. But such has been the demand that he has felt the need to schedule in-person sessions held, rather sweetly, at Starbucks locations around the world as he himself travels to fulfill the requirements of his performing career. That’s in stark contrast to the usual format of Biss with a Steinway, lecturing to a camera. It’s also in contrast to a traditional law of an international artist’s life – that it’s lonely on the road. So listen up at a Starbucks near you and maybe you’ll hear a world-class pianist discussing Beethoven sonatas with an eager clutch (or maybe crowd) of disciples. Or log on to the app. Thousands have.
Photographer: Benjamin Ealovega
First Kazakh Steinway Artist The ranks of the Steinway Artists are ever-growing, and their august number now includes a pianist from Kazakhstan. Kadisha Onalbayeva is the first artist from that country to be thus honored. A pianist who has won many prizes, she has made something of a speciality of introducing music from her native country to the United States. She is artist-in-residence at the University of Mobile in Alabama. As for her feelings for Steinway’s pianos, she says, “How I hear, how I create, how I orchestrate … Only Steinway.” STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
nothing I would do or contemplate doing that would in any way impact the unique pedestal that Steinway occupies in the industry. … It’s my goal to safeguard that reputation and continue that pursuit of perfection.”
John Paulson is best known as one of America’s most successful hedge fund managers. Now, through his acquisition of Steinway & Sons, he has become custodian of one of the music world’s most beloved firms. And, as he said in a recent interview, it was a purchase made out of love as well as business sense. “I grew up in a family of piano players,” he told the host. “Both my sisters were serious players and they both, as they became more accomplished, aspired to buy a Steinway. … At the end of the day it was not something we could afford. So [my dad] did buy a baby grand and brought it home and it wasn’t a Steinway and my sister was crying. It’s when I first realized … how powerful the draw was for musicians to play on a Steinway.” Calling Steinway’s pianos “the epitome of high culture and art,” he noted the value in “greatness” and that owning a Steinway is an investment. Presumably the same is true of owning the whole company – so what do you do with a firm like Steinway once you have it? Cherish it, according to Paulson. “When you have something that is perfect, that occupies a position and sector unrivaled by anyone else, that’s one thing we do not want to tamper with. I don’t think anyone should worry about the new owner. I am in awe of the brand and there is
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Left: John Paulson Below: Ingudesman and Joo
New owner for Steinway & Sons
As Steinway lovers will know, the company has never been shy of challenging itself to come up with something a little off the beaten track (Joja Wendt’s audiences still enjoy his “dancing pianos,” an effect created by fixing a pneumatic system onto a Steinway, which can lift each front piano leg slightly off the ground). A recent device, created for the comic virtuoso duo of Ingudesman and Joo, definitely fits that description! It allows the lidstick to be knocked away in a moment of assumed pique by Ingudesman, and the piano lid magically stays up. The gag was made possible by master Steinway technician Stefan Knüpfer, who built an apparatus of two iron bars. One lies in the frame of the piano, invisible to the audience, the other holds up the piano lid, making the lidstick redundant – so that the stick that is knocked away is actually a mock-up. One interesting postscript to these kinds of devices is that worried Steinway dealers have been extremely and understandably cautious about allowing them to be fixed onto their beautifully crafted pianos. So, for both the lidstick and the dancing piano devices, Steinway Hamburg actually
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… and one from the past Ask anyone who knows pianists about Roberto Prosseda and they will most likely say, “Ah, the Mendelssohn pianist.” And it is true that he has made his name with his extensive edition of that composer’s piano works on Decca, including a reconstructed Piano Concerto No. 3. But now they’re starting to say, “Ah, the guy who has brought back the pedal piano.” Because not only has he just made a recording of pedal piano music by Gounod, just issued on Hyperion Records, he even has his own special construction that can turn two Steinways into a pedal piano (one of those constructions that even a pianistic layman might call “really cool”). But to begin at the beginning … “I knew about the pedal piano from the complete works of Schumann in my collection,” says Prosseda, “and there were these opuses, 56 and 58, written for Pedalflugel. But there was no instrument
Roberto Prosseda performs on his pedal piano.
available for me to play this music until Luigi Borgato made one on which I could start to test my pedal skills.” A foundation in Venice helped him develop his confidence on the instrument and he soon discovered the existence of Gounod’s concerto for pedal piano. Last year he commissioned a device from the organ builder Claudio Pinchi that would couple two Steinway pianos to make a unique pedal instrument. “I love Steinway,” enthuses Prosseda. “Theirs are the pianos that allow me to give the greatest variety and get all the details and nuances when I play. So this device I asked to be able to work with any kind of Steinway piano. It takes around 45 minutes to set up on stage. You just replace the legs of the lower piano, and I bring this three-octave pedal board which allows the pedal to control five octaves on the piano keyboard.” The pedal board depresses the keys externally so the piano’s insides are left untouched. And – here’s the cool bit – stops similar to those on an organ allow Prosseda to choose which set of three octaves on the piano he’s playing, including playing the same note, as it were, in two or three octaves together. “No pianist can STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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THE FUTURE OF OPERA
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Steinway-exclusive piano competitions yield bright new talents
play two notes of the same distance with the same balance, but here it’s real doubling,” he explains. “It’s a way to extend the dynamic and sound range of the piano.” The 19th century composer Charles-Valentin Alkan had a specially built pedal piano with an octave-doubling option, he confides, and Prosseda is currently working on Alkan’s pedal piano pieces. Are they as notoriously difficult to play as his traditonal piano music is? “Harder!” he laughs. “Because the pedal work is very hard! And the challenge is to make music despite all the technical problems. The touch of each foot is very important and it’s very different to organ pedal technique, which is why not many organists play pedal piano. It’s actually easier for a pianist to apply piano principles to the pedal than the other way around.” Prosseda has even inspired contemporary composers to write for the pedal piano – Michael Nyman, Nimrod Borenstein, even the sainted Ennio Morricone. “That’s right,” he says with a hint of personal triumph, “I want to bring back this instrument as a reason to stimulate new creativity in composers. Our role as performers is to be a bridge between the past and the present, and to make things new for the future.”
Left: Detail of a device from the organ builder Claudio Pinchi coupling two Steinway pianos to make a unique pedal instrument. Right: Boris Giltburg, winner of the 2013 Reine Elisabeth Competition in Brussels.
Frankly, there’s enough to worry about when entering piano contests to have to feel any jitters about the state of the instrument you’ll have to play – but the piano itself is of course key to getting across to the judges your musical personality. Competitions that are exclusively all-Steinway affairs don’t have that worry. Supplied and supported by Steinway, their competitors are free to concentrate only on their performances, secure that they’ll be in the hands of a first-class piano. And this year has yielded some really fine winners from the Steinway family of competitions. The Israeli-Russian pianist Boris Giltburg walked away with the 25,000-euro top prize at the Reine Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. The third Top of the World Competition in Tromsoe, Norway, allotted its 30,000-euro top prize to Emanuel Rimoldi – coincidentally the third time in a row their major gong has gone to an Italian. The Ferruccio Busoni Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy, opted not to award a first prize but gave second prize to another Italian, Rodolfo Leone. Again, there was no first prize in the piano trio round for the ARD Piano Competition in Munich, but second prize went jointly to Trio Karénine and to the Van Baerle Trio, which also won the audience prize. In the United States, Ukranian pianist Vadym Kholodenko won the much-heralded Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Texas. The Russian Stanislav Khristenko bagged the Cleveland International Piano Competition. n
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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In Memoriam … Van Cliburn performing in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory during the Tchaikovsky Competition.
Van Cliburn Foundation
Van Cliburn, 1934-2013 There can be few more exciting live performances caught, happily, on record than Van Cliburn’s 1958 victory in the first International Tchaikovsky Competition. There can be few sentences that so inadequately convey a mammoth musical event than the one that opens this paragraph, because to understand why Cliburn reached such an iconic status, it is not enough to only consider his playing, just as it is a mistake to concentrate – as some have – only on the politics around that contest. In a plot that was basically rehashed years later for Rocky IV, with fewer pianos and more boxing gloves (and a gratuitous in-the-ring death), this was a Cold War confrontation that turned into a message of peace and hope and the refinement of the human spirit. The USSR established the Tchaikovsky competition to show how wonderful its musicians were and how much better the Soviets were than, specifically, their arch-rivals: the Americans. This young pianist from Kilgore, Texas, made the
long trip to the Russian capital city, where he not only won, but gave a victory performance of both Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto – two quintessential Russian masterpieces – that earned him a nearly 10-minute-long standing ovation. It is said that Premier Nikita Khrushchev himself sanctioned the bestowing of the prize on this American. Time magazine hailed Cliburn on its cover and New York gave him a parade. Yet Cliburn described himself as “a witness and a messenger.” He spent his life conveying that message. He did much to epitomize American-Soviet ties even during periods of tension, performing regularly with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra and, both in Russia and the United States, Russian conductor Kirill Kondrashin. He played for Russian and American leaders – often together – and along the way he enjoyed enormous success. His Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 recording for RCA Victor was the first platinum-selling classical CD and remained the highest classical seller for more than 10 years. He won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Russian Order of Friendship, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2010, the National Medal of Arts. But in later years, he became something of a recluse and his live performances became rare sightings. Perhaps his most famous legacy now will be the piano competition that bears his name, and which has done so much to discover and nurture other great talents – among them Radu Lupu, Cristina Ortiz, Olga Kern, Sa Chen, Barry Douglas, Jeffrey Kahane, and Christian Zacharias. Interestingly, although the top five have often yielded a top-flight career, the winners of the first prize have not always emerged as the most prominent among them. With all of this, one returns to that live recording of that heady evening in Moscow. The fire, the sheer hunger to play, to ingest all the limitless passion that those two great concertos contain almost sets the ears alight. You can hear, easily hear, what all the fuss was about. That’s the real, final story of Cliburn’s celebrated life – he was a very great pianist. And great pianism, whatever the circumstances, will out. That’s a pretty great thing about the human condition: Competitive, selfish, even nasty we may be as a race, but we know great art when we hear it. Van Cliburn transcended national politics, and then he passed the message along. STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Cedar Walton, 1934-2013
One of those Brits who made a great career in the United States and became a staple voice of American broadcasting, Margaret Marian McPartland only gave up her NPR show Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz in 2011. Which was fair enough, given that she was already well into her 90s at the time. A Grammy Lifetime Achievement winner (in 2004), member of the National Radio Hall of Fame, and, in recognition from her mother country, an OBE, she not only played and presented, she also composed. The move to America had come when she married her regular performing partner, Jimmy McPartland, and he encouraged her playing career. They divorced in 1972, but clearly remained close – so close that they remarried in 1991. Her NPR program was the longest-running cultural show on the network, one in which she would interview and play alongside her guests. These included very many of the great and the good, such as Bill Evans, Mary Lou Williams, Shirley Horn, Dizzy Gillespie, and Lionel Hampton, and several of the performances (including ones with all of those just listed) were commercially released. Her show’s legacy continues in its successor, Piano Jazz Rising Stars.
In the days when jazz was more sternly categorized into genres and sub-genres, Cedar Walton was known as the hard bop pianist. Maybe even the hard bop pianist’s hard bop pianist. Because he emerged from the band of one of the few jazz masters for whom pedagogue seems about the right word – Art Blakey. Blakey virtually invented various forms of jazz, and in retrospect the fact that he called his band The Jazz Messengers seems a simple statement of fact. Walton was one of those messengers, and, as pianist and arranger, few were more involved in the honing of that message. So when Walton struck out for himself his voice was individual and strong. He enjoyed huge success both as a solo performer and with other collaborators, among them Charles McPherson, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Art Farmer, and Lee Morgan. He led his own group, Mobius. And several of his works have survived the test of time, above all perhaps “Bolivia.” n
David Redfern/Getty Images
Marian McPartland, 1918-2013
Left: Marian McPartland Right: Cedar Walton
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Wagner on the Piano: The Music That Time Forgot By Maike Ashman
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Richard Wagner’s music for solo piano (the lost 1831 B flat Sonata and a version of the 1831/32 Polonaise were written for four hands) comprises 15 works (11 of them published) composed between 1829, when he was just 16, and 1875, when he had just finished the score of Götterdämmerung. The first seven items, four of which are lost, are essentially exercises in recognized forms – sonata, fantasia, etc. – written for the teacher that he once denied he ever had: Theodor Weinlig, the Kapellmeister of Leipzig’s Thomaskirche. After 1840 – when he was an exile in Paris – his published compositions for piano consisted exclusively (in the then-traditional manner of composers such as Chopin and Liszt) of short, freer form “album leaves” dedicated in gratitude to particular individuals, often commemorating a special event.
Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images Photo courtesy of European Pressphoto Agency/Andreas Gebert
Above: A Breitkopf & Härtel piano that belonged to Wagner. Right: This Steinway concert grand, a gift to Wagner, bears the inscription: “Festgruss aus Steinway Hall an Richard Wagner, Steinway & Sons New York 1876. Opus 34.304.”
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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Much of this repertoire was first recorded in 1961 under the patronage of Wagner’s granddaughter Friedelind. It often received short shrift at the hands of critics. Gramophone’s reviewer at the time described the music as “something to hear or play through once but not exactly a joy forever.” Early sonatas in B flat – published as Wagner’s Opus 1 – and A (the so-called “Grosse Sonata” Op. 4 from 1832) and an F sharp minor fantasia – Wagner’s longest work in this medium, running at some 21 to 28 minutes on currently available recordings – were dismissed as “bits of juvenilia for the sheer exercise of it.” Concluded this reviewer, “the piano was not essential to him, of course; even the later Albumblätter of 1861 (for Princess Metternich and Countess Portalès, Wagner’s patron and host during his later sojourn in Paris to stage Tannhäuser at the Opéra) and 1875 (for Betty Schott, the wife of his publisher), although clearly no one else could have written them, are poor things.” While no one might claim a place for any of this piano repertoire among Wagner’s outstanding creations, to dismiss this body of work out of hand is to miss its point – in much the same way Wagner’s prose writings (especially in their plodding Victorian English translations by William Ashton Ellis) used to be treated as an almost comic aberration tolerated only because of the greatness of his main focus on opera. The fact is, however, that Wagner – as a thorough working professional – never wrote anything that he did not need to for his own benefit, be it financial (like the 1876 “American Centennial March”) or aesthetic. Thus, the Wesendonck Lieder, far from being written as a kind of love token for Mathilde Wesendonck, were serious working studies for the music of Tristan und Isolde, the main project on the composer’s table at the time. They needed texts that Wagner didn’t want to write (unnecessary) but were conveniently to hand from his muse and patron. The first four surviving piano pieces from the 1830s – all but the fantasia in a deliberately precise and narrow form – show Leipzig’s young “studiosus musicae” practicing his profession at quite a basic level. Teacher Weinlig ordered a piano sonata using “a very early and childlike” work of Ignaz Pleyel as model. Wagner obliged with what he later called “an extremely simple and modest piece of work.” It has a bracing, early Beethoven-like opening idea and some surprise key changes in the Finale. Weinlig even persuaded Breitkopf & Härtel to publish it. There followed from Wagner – as Weinlig’s reward to him for keeping to the rules in the B flat Sonata – a freer form fantasia.
The Steinway grand piano on which Wagner composed Parsifal.
This long piece strikes out in several significant directions for the composer. It’s more of a report on where he is musically than an attempt to be a “good” piano composer. The writing has a vocal feel (Wagner was planning an opera, Die Hochzeit, at the time), audibly influenced by Bellinian bel canto. The Fantasia establishes a mood of dark brooding with a repeated motif that looks forward to the accompaniment to Tannhäuser’s Rome Narrative and shares the uneven phrases, quirky rhythms, and sudden stops and starts of the composer’s early orchestral writing. After a return to more traditional forms with a polonaise and a larger-scale sonata (the “Grosse”) – the second of three movements much influenced by late Beethoven – Wagner abandoned the keyboard for the stage for nearly a decade. Der fliegende Holländer (his fourth opera) was already under way when he dashed off (1840) a short Mendelssohnian album leaf as a bon voyage wish to his friend, the painter Ernst Benedikt Kietz, sometimes titled “Song without Words” after a phrase in a poem he wrote Kietz at the time. Wagner’s remaining piano writing that appeared in public would now all be dedicated to women. A hat trick of pieces graced the beginning (1853/54) of his acquaintance with Mathilde Wesendonck in Zürich, where he would become a mixture of courtesy guest and in-house artist. The tiny G major Polka (barely half a minute) sounds tongue-in-cheek and accompanies a “forgive me” note from Wagner to Mathilde: “here’s syrup for yesterday’s ice.” The “Sonata for the Album of Frau M W,” which STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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Photographer Sammelleidenschaft, Mäzenatentum und Kunstförderung
A painting of Richard Wagner, circa 1862, by Caesar Willich.
followed immediately, is the most substantial of all Wagner’s piano music. A sonata in the rare form of a single movement, it has both more sophisticated music making than Wagner normally allowed into his “occasional” pieces and some ear-catching surprises (themes beginning in the mediant, rather than the dominant, and a reversal of the order of subjects in the recapitulation). The score bears the inscription “Wisst ihr wie das wird?” (“Do you know what will happen?”), a near quotation from the Götterdämmerung libretto, which he had read out loud some months earlier with Mathilde in the audience, and the first of many hints about his personal feelings for her. A third Wesendonck piece, the “Züricher Vielliebchen Walzer” (“Zürich Sweetheart Waltz”), referred to a party at the Wesendoncks’ and was (officially) dedicated to Mathilde’s sister, Marie, by “the best dancer in Saxony, Richard the Waltzmaker.” Wagner now returned to Paris in an attempt to secure the elusive goal of a triumph at the Opéra, still the world’s No. 1 ranking opera house. He was helped to secure a commission (to remount Tannhäuser) by Princess Metternich, wife of the Austrian ambassador, to whom he dedicated a charming (and almost wholly conventional) piece in C major. Forced then to stay on in Paris longer than planned, Wagner was offered accommodation through another embassy, the Prussian, and the July 1861 “Ankunft bei den schwarzen Schwänen” (“Arrival at the Black Swans’ House”) was his album leaf thank you. The music is loaded with Wagner’s current preoccupations – a definite feel of the recently completed Tristan Act III coupled with a witty and relevant transposition into the major of Tannhäuser Act II’s “Sei mir gegrüsst” (“I greet you”). It’s clear from Cosima Wagner’s diary that Wagner would often improvise on the piano and probably from such sessions arose his idea of money-making tone poems or symphonies based on existing operas. Officially, one piano piece remained to be written: the 1875 album leaf for Frau Schott to thank her for her friendship at a lonely, tense time in the 1860s, and for her firm’s returning an early piano work: the manuscript of his youthful arrangement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. While (again) never wasting a firstclass idea that could be better accommodated in a future full-scale project, this last album leaf – despite its essential gentleness – can be identified easily as the work of a composer who has just had Siegfried and Götterdämmerung on his desk. n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Steinway at 160 The story of Steinway By Jed Distler
An icon among instruments If the piano is not the world’s best-selling musical instrument (that honor goes to the harmonica), surely it is the most iconic. The piano’s rich artistic and social heritage evokes images ranging from Vladimir Horowitz in Moscow and Liberace at the Palladium to Van Cliburn’s victory at the First International Tchaikovsky Competition, Artur Schnabel’s Beethoven cycles, Anton Rubinstein’s Historical Concerts, Bugs Bunny’s Lisztian antics, and Jerry Lee Lewis’ wild barrelhouse flourishes. At the same time, offstage, where instant communication allows consumers to experience live concerts on handheld digital devices or access music from all over the world at the drop of a hat, one still can find music lovers who give special consideration to the piano. Rather than sit in front of a computer or television screen to be entertained, they provide their own entertainment by playing duets, accompanying relatives who sing, trying to figure out a pattern that Billy Joel or Alicia Keys made popular, or, at the very least, fooling around with “Chopsticks.” In fact, before recordings and radio gained currency, the only way to enjoy music at home was to make it yourself. If you wanted to get to know Brahms’ latest symphony or Wagner’s new opera, you basically had two options – to travel to the concert hall or opera house, or to play a four-hand arrangement. In turn, the piano’s increasing popularity and prominence inspired many composers and virtuosos to push musical and executional boundaries to new, unprecedented levels.
Birth of a legend Such was the world of the piano when Steinway & Sons came into being 160 years ago. Like many family businesses, it got off to a modest start. Born in 1797 in the Harz Mountains, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg was a carpenter at first, and then went on to build his own instruments, eventually focusing on pianos. It’s hard to imagine constructing a piano from scratch in one’s home kitchen, but that’s precisely where Steinweg built his first concert grand. In the aftermath of Germany’s 1848 revolutions, Steinweg’s third son, Charles, went to America to avoid military service, as well as explore work opportunities. The signs were good, and the Steinwegs emigrated from Seesen to New York in
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An 1836 “Kitchen” grand, crafted by Heinrich Steinweg.
1850, while the eldest son, C.F. Theodor, stayed behind to keep the Steinweg brand on the market. Settled in New York’s Lower East Side, the family anglicized their name from Steinweg to Steinway. Although Heinrich, now Henry, never learned to speak English (nor read nor write, according to his great-greatgrandson Miles Chapin), he managed to find work as a “bellyman,” the term for one who builds soundboards. Henry Jr. and his two brothers Charles and William also worked for local piano firms. By 1853, father and sons were ready to start their own business. They opened shop on March 5, 1853, in the back of a small loft located at 85 Varick Street. With 462 pianos under their collective belt, the Steinways dubbed their first New York-built square piano Number 463, and sold it to the Griswold family for $500 (around $15,151.52 in 2013 dollars). In his book History of the Piano, Ernest Closson succinctly summed up Steinway & Sons’ rise to prominence. “Its prosperity was as extraordinary as it was rapid.” During its first three years of business, Steinway annual sales rose from 74 to 208 pianos. Steadily increasing demand precipitated the firm’s move to a larger downtown New York space, located at 82–88 Walker Street, in the heart of the city’s burgeoning “Piano
Above: The Steinway factory building at 82-88 Walker Street, Manhattan, New York City, occupied from 1853 to 1860. In the first carriage is Albert Steinway, in the next is William Steinway, standing at the rear wheel of William’s carriage is Henry Jr., and Charles G. Steinway is on the steps without a hat. Right: Heinrich Steinweg.
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Row.” Here they created their first showroom, where nearly all of the family members worked. In 1855, Steinway exhibited at the American Institute Exhibition held at New York’s Crystal Palace, winning their first Gold Medal. One reporter’s reaction to the sound of the square pianos on display cited their “great power of tone, a depth and richness in the bass, a full mellowness in the middle register and brilliant purity in the treble, making a scale perfectly equal and singularly melodious throughout its entire range. In touch, they are all that could be desired.” These words easily could apply to modern-day Steinway concert grands. Steinway’s fortunes and reputation continued to escalate in the 1860s, beginning with a new factory that covered the entire city block at Park Avenue and 53rd Street. With an expanded workforce, annual piano production increased more than 300 percent, incorporating the first in a long series of major design improvements. Nearly half of Steinway’s 126 patented inventions are credited to Steinway family members, starting in 1857, when Henry Jr. filed patents for smooth, repetitive key action. A major turning point in piano construction occurred when Henry Jr. filed a patent to incorporate Jean Henri Pap’s overstringing invention in grand pianos, a technique that allowed for larger strings to fit within the piano case. 1857 also saw Steinway’s first art case piano, which launched a tradition of custom-made designs for affluent customers who wished for something unique and special. Among Steinway’s most memorable art case pianos is the 1938 grand that resides in the East Room of the White House.
Left: The original Steinway Hall, in the 1860s. Right: The 52nd Street Factory, Park Avenue, circa 1865.
Expansion International recognition for Steinway pianos began in earnest when the firm won First Prize at the 1862 London International Exhibition, along with three awards (including the Grand Gold Medal of Honor) for piano manufacturing excellence at Paris’ 1867 Exposition Universelle. A caricature published at the time of the Paris exhibition depicts a piano topped with a Steinway sign, and a crowd of people pushing and shoving their way to get to the instrument. In order to meet European demand for pianos and to avoid high import taxes, Steinway brothers William and the recently anglicized C.F. Theodore (who had moved from Germany to New York to help steer the business following the death of brothers Henry Jr. and Charles) opened a factory in Hamburg. Theodore remained in Germany to head the Hamburg branch until his death in 1889. Many of Theodore’s inventions played a crucial role in improving hammer precision and creating more reliable and economically practical cases. What is more, these features and further improvements directly led to the creation of Model D Number 51257, completed on Jan. 31, 1884. This was the first of Steinway’s modern concert grand pianos, and essentially remains the model we know today. Now in charge of Steinway’s New York firm, William recognized the need to expand the factory beyond Manhattan’s borders, not only to find more space but also to keep employees at a distance from what Steinway referred to in his diary as, “the machinations of the anarchists and socialists.” On Dec. 20, 1870, Steinway learned that one David M. Lewis was willing to sell “140 lots at New Astoria” for $20,000 cash ($357,142.86 STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Music for the masses Still, Manhattan remained New York’s bustling center for musical culture, and William realized that a potential piano customer must first be a music lover (he was said to be a fine singer in his own right). With cooperation from the city, Steinway Hall opened on Oct. 31, 1866. The 2,500-seat concert hall, with a full stage capable of holding a 100-piece orchestra, was constructed just behind the firm’s recently opened piano showrooms located on East 14th Street between University
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A cartoon of Anton Rubinstein playing the piano.
1900-1950: A golden age The first decades of 20th century America firmly established the piano as a bona fide family home entertainment center. In a PBS interview, pianist, historian, and ragtime specialist Max Morath spoke about the increasing presence of upright pianos in middle-class society. “By 1900, the upright piano
© Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy
in 2013 dollars). Steinway jumped at the chance to acquire 400 acres of rural land in Queens and closed the deal two months later. Now Steinway could install a sawmill to prepare its own lumber and an iron foundry to build its own cast iron plates. Furthermore, the move helped to provide the infrastructure for a Steinway company town, where William’s employees and their families could live. In addition to housing (several of the original two-story brick houses are preserved today), William donated land to build a public school, a kindergarten, a fire house, a post office, and even an amusement park illuminated by a new invention called electric lighting. To provide access to Steinway Village, William facilitated a transportation network of streetcars, trolleys, trains, and ferries. He planned the construction of an interurban tunnel linking Manhattan and Queens, although the project did not come to completion until after William’s death in 1896, leading the way for the IRT Flushing Line.
Place and Fifth Avenue. In order to get to the hall itself, concertgoers first had to pass through the showrooms, which considerably helped to step up sales. Steinway Hall became home to the New York Philharmonic until Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, as well as a showcase for prominent performers, from sopranos Jenny Lind and Adelina Patti and violinist Fritz Kreisler, to Charles Dickens reading his own works and Charles Sumner lecturing on the Franco-Prussian War. Not surprisingly, William played an active role in planning and programming each Steinway Hall season. Pianists prevailed, however, together with the idea that celebrated keyboard artists inspired sales. “One concert on Saturday night sells pianos Monday morning,” William liked to say, and he persuaded many of the era’s keyboard luminaries to grace his stage, including Rafael Joseffy, Arthur Friedheim, and the popular Ignace Jan Paderewski, whose March 26, 1892, recital netted “immense” receipts totaling $6,530.30 ($167,443.59 today). In 1872, Steinway took this idea a significant step further by engaging the legendary Russian virtuoso Anton Rubinstein for a cross-country American tour encompassing 215 concerts in 239 days. No piano tour had ever been seen on that scale in the United States. Later, Steinway sponsored similarly conceived (albeit smaller-scaled) tours with Paderewski. These events immediately set trends among competing American piano companies like Aeolian and Chickering, who also built their own New York concert halls, while London’s Steinway Hall opened in 1875. The Hamburg branch established its own Steinway-Haus in 1904, complete with showroom, performance spaces, practice studios, and storage space. Berlin followed suit five years later. In 1877, another milestone was reached, when the Conservatory at Oberlin College became the first All-Steinway School, meaning that all of the pianos on campus are made by Steinway. Yale University followed suit 20 years later, as did the newly formed Juilliard School, in 1924, and the Curtis Institute in 1929. As of today, there are more than 160 All-Steinway Schools worldwide.
U.S. soldiers based in Maryland during World War II gather around one of Steinway’s few Victory Vertical pianos.
– forget the grand, you still had to have money – the upright piano, a good piano that stayed in tune … is now available to families … all over America and in clubs and saloons where these young musicians could get access to a good piano that stood up under a lot of playing. I looked up some years back a bunch of books that the Department of Commerce puts out, and between the year 1900 and 1920, something like 5 million pianos were sold. And when you think that they went into homes where maybe … 10, 12, 15 people used them, it means that the piano was accessible to almost everybody in America.” Steinway & Sons naturally kept its collective ear to the marketplace. Having long produced high-quality uprights to the same handcrafted standards as their larger, more expensive counterparts, Steinway introduced its K-52 piano in 1903, a professional model upright 52 inches in height, and with a soundboard larger than those in many grands. The Steinway family directors decided to relocate the New York showrooms closer to Carnegie Hall, which now was New York’s premier concert venue. In the new Steinway building, located at 109 West 57th Street, the main room occupied a twostory rotunda that also could accommodate performances and receptions, along with designated practice areas. For the Oct. 27, 1925, opening gala, Willem Mengelberg and members of the New York Philharmonic performed a broadcast concert for 300 invited guests. Over the next nine decades, the Steinway basement became a gathering point for the evergrowing number of Steinway Artists among famous pianists. Legends abound about keyboard icons breezing in between tours to select an instrument for their upcoming recording date or Carnegie Hall appearance. Here, for example, in 1928, the young Vladimir Horowitz rehearsed Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto with the composer accompanying on a second piano, while a documentary film captures an equally precocious Glenn Gould bouncing from one piano to the next, testing them out, in search of perfection.
Nor did developments in the burgeoning player piano industry go unnoticed, when Steinway partnered with the Aeolian company to build a number of concert grand pianos equipped with the Duo-Art reproducing player mechanism. Concerts where live pianists alternated with reproducing piano roll performances proved to be a persuasive marketing ploy. A November 1921 Carnegie Hall event featured Ignaz Friedman live, followed by one of his Duo-Art rolls, and then a duet between Friedman and the player piano. Eventually the advent of electrical recording, the growing popularity of radio, and the effects of the Depression hastened the player piano industry’s decline. Yet prior to the 1929 stock market crash, Steinway unveiled one of its most unique and ambitious instruments, a double manual keyboard model with 176 keys and four pedals. Conceived by the composer and inventor Emanuel Moor, Steinway built one as an experiment in 1929 at the Hamburg factory. The instrument moved to a Berlin concert hall, where it was damaged during World War II. The University of Wisconsin purchased the double piano in 1961 for artist-in-residence Gunnar Johansen, and it later was restored by Steinway for pianist Christopher Taylor. Sales and production understandably dropped during the Depression, while the Astoria facilities remained officially closed for two years, although part-time workers were brought in when needed. Still, new pianos continued to be introduced, like the popular 5-foot, 1-inch Model S baby grand (originally priced at $885), which still is favored for smaller rooms and practice studios. In addition, two important patents were filed in 1936. One was for the Steinway Diaphragmatic Soundboard, which resulted in a stronger, more sustained overall tone. The other was for Accelerated Action, a celebrated Steinway characteristic that allows for more responsive and supple repeated notes at any velocity. By the late 1930s business picked up, and eventually broke pre-Depression sales records. With the outbreak of World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Steinway had to temporarily refocus STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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its mission. The Astoria factory became a plant for building wooden gliders to convey Allied troops behind enemy lines. In lieu of standard pianos, Steinway designed a special small piano called the Victory Vertical (also known as the G.I. Piano). This legless, 40-inch upright sat on the floor, and resembled a box with a keyboard jutting out of its side. It could be carried by four men onto military ships, or even dropped by parachute from an airplane. By contrast, war conditions took their toll on the still-Americanowned Hamburg factory. Toward the end of the war, most of the lumber yard’s wood had to be donated to the war effort, while bombs from an Allied air raid hit and nearly destroyed the factory. The factories of its German competitors Bechstein and Blüthner also suffered destruction, and faced a difficult rebirth after the war due to the Bechstein family’s Nazi ties and Blüthner’s nationalization under East German communism. Fortunately, Hamburg became part of the American sector during postwar occupation. Helped by its American association and some financial assistance from the Marshall Plan, the Hamburg factory was able to rebuild.
Changes in a new era When pianist Gary Graffman appeared for his first RCA Victor recording session, he touched the keyboard and immediately noticed something different. The piano keys were covered with plastic, not ivory. Because the use of ivory tusks and teeth in piano key manufacturing contributed to species endangerment, all of the American piano companies agreed in 1956 to abandon ivory for alternative solutions. Further changes were in the air. Henry Z. Steinway (Heinrich’s great-grandson) became the firm’s fifth president, continuing the family line until his retirement in 1977. The Japanese Yamaha firm began to carry Steinway pianos in their stores for the first time. More and more international piano competitions brought young keyboard talents into the limelight, while helping to spread and solidify the outreach of piano culture and serious study of Western classical music beyond its European/Slavic base camp, so to speak. The noted writer and pianist David Dubal wondered if Franz Liszt ever would have dreamed of a Korean classical pianist, or would have predicted the remarkable number of Chinese virtuosos on today’s scene, from whom their non-Asian counterparts can learn a thing or two. In 1972, CBS Musical Instruments purchased Steinway & Sons, selling it in 1985 to a private investment group led by Robert and John Birmingham. This group in 1996 sold the firm to another investment group that formed the public conglomerate Steinway Musical Instruments, which listed on the New York Stock Exchange as LVB for Ludwig van Beethoven. As the 21st century found its footing, Steinway celebrated important milestones in grand music style (all puns intended!), starting in 2003 with a trio of Carnegie Hall galas respectively devoted to classical, jazz, and pop keyboard movers and shakers. In April 2005, a celebration to honor the Hamburg factory’s 125th
anniversary brought Steinway artists Lang Lang, Detlef Kraus, and Vladimir and Vovka Ashkenazy together for a concert in the city’s Laeiszhalle. And in keeping with today’s digital zeitgeist, Steinway duly joined Twitter, started a YouTube channel, unveiled a much-appreciated Metronome App for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad as well as the Etude App for the iPad, and launched its own Steinway & Sons CD label. Steinway became a private company again in September 2013 under the new ownership of hedge fund manager John Paulson, who learned to appreciate Steinway pianos at a young age, having grown up in a family of pianists. Discussing Steinway in an interview conducted by Ben Niles, producer of Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037, Paulson explained that “my goal is to preserve it and to ensure the greatness is continued in particular to the quality of the instruments and secondly to expand the distribution to other parts of the world where it’s not fully represented … not only in the current generations but future generations to come.” Whatever the future may bring to this venerable company, including the much-anticipated relocation of New York’s Steinway Hall, nothing will change the simple fact that a Steinway piano is an individual entity, be it the mighty 500,000th art case instrument designed by Wendell Castle and signed by more than 800 Steinway Artists from Vladimir Horowitz to Elton John, the Griswold family piano No. 463 on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the venerable upright in your living room that can still hold its tuning. n
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My First Steinway
“The other truly unforgettable experience was the first time that I played in Suntory Hall, Tokyo. It wasn’t too long after this first account, and I remember thinking to myself that I would never be able to top that first experience. And yet here I was, drunk with pleasure playing on one of the most beautiful instruments I had ever met in one of the most heart-warming acoustics. I’m sure there were many more such experiences afterwards, but it’s those first ones that marked me the most.”
Four leading pianists recall those special moments – encountering their first significant Steinways. Sergio Tiempo
Left: Sergio Tiempo Right: Kathryn Stott
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Paul Marc Mitchell/EMI Classics
“I have many memorable experiences with Steinway pianos. The first was one that I encountered upon the stage of a very obscure little town in Belgium many years ago when I was maybe 14 or so. I remember it because I wasn’t particularly inspired that day and I was feeling a little cranky, and then, suddenly, I started rehearsing on this piano, which instantly made me forget all of that and made me so happy that I didn’t want to stop playing – ever! I think it ended up being one of my best recitals.
“In 1974, I sat my ARCM exam at the Royal College of Music [RCM]. I was in my last year at the Yehudi Menuhin School, with the question of where to continue my studies still very much in the air. In the exam, I played on a beautiful Steinway grand in the recital hall. I remember it well because of the lovely rich and very rounded sound, besides something very comforting about the feel of the keys. That day I decided I would study at the RCM with Kendall Taylor, who had been on the panel. Over the next four years, I played on that same Steinway many times as it was the place we would always perform our solo and duo repertoire – it became a familiar part of performing life in the college. “Fifteen years later, I was invited to play in Zimbabwe, and after performing in Harare went on to Bulawayo, where I was to give a recital. I started to rehearse and immediately had a strange sensation of déjà-vu … I felt as if I had been there before, even though this was my first
“I remember it well because of the lovely rich and very rounded sound, besides something very comforting about the feel of the keys.” visit to Zimbabwe. Over the next few hours, I realized that there was something very familiar about the piano but couldn’t understand why. After the recital, I spoke about all this with the promoter, who explained that of course it felt familiar – this was the Steinway I had played all those years ago at the RCM! The bond with that instrument had not been broken, even after 15 years, a renovation, and traveling thousands of miles. It was a lovely feeling.”
Jeffrey Biegel “The first time I sat down to a Steinway piano was in 1977 in the beautiful rotunda of Steinway Hall in New York City. At the time, I had started lessons with Adele Marcus at the Juilliard School, while still only a sophomore in high school. As soon as I sat in front of the 9-foot concert grand, not knowing what to expect, the moment my hands touched the keys, I felt an ease in the physical contact between my fingertips and the keyboard. Just gazing at the Steinway & Sons logo was enough for me to sense I was sitting in front of the instrument of the immortals. The sounds which came forth were more than I could have imagined, giving me a sound more beautiful than I could ever hope for in a piano. I was being trained by Adele Marcus in the art of tone production, color, and sensitivity to pedaling, and all of these
components seemed to join together as one in the process of playing the most magical piano I had played up until that moment. “Later, in searching for the perfect Steinway piano in 1984, my piano technician, Steve Borell, who had been the head technician for the Concert & Artists Department at Steinway and tuned pianos for the most legendary of artists, told me there was a model ‘B’ in a New Jersey Steinway dealership that I had to try. The first composition I would play to see if the piano was the ‘right fit’ for me was the opening of Beethoven’s Sonata in A-flat major, Opus 110. This particular piano had that ethereal, warm, and noble sound that immediately reached my soul. Since 1984, this is the piano I have grown with, with its glorious sound, whisper-like pianissimo, and thundering, sonorous bass. But it was that first moment in Steinway Hall in 1977, realizing my life would be complete with only the Steinway piano, which still rings true.”
© John Vercelletto
“Throughout my formative years, the name Steinway & Sons was the non plus ultra of piano manufacturers – the absolute and ultimate ‘must have’ in both concert hall and home. One of my most memorable early encounters with the piano came shortly after the opening of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall. As a very young pianist making his debut in the hall, I vividly recall both the style and gravitas that the great Steinway gave to the occasion. ... It’s not just the richly upholstered sound of the instrument but the aura of pianistic hopes and aspirations that the name conjures – still today.” n
Left: Jeffrey Biegel Right: Mark Bebbington
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Design as Choreography The making of a new limited edition, the Arabesque By Martin Cullingford
The arabesque is one of the quintessential ballet moves: arms and legs extended both forward and backwards in perfect poise, at once both powerfully sculptural yet elegant and refined. And fleeting – a mere moment of beauty. It’s difficult too, not attempted until several years into training, and yet when mastered is seemingly effortless in its grace. And it is the arabesque that is the inspiration behind a new limited edition Steinway by famed furniture designer Dakota Jackson, who has sought “to lock that momentary position into the piano.” It’s not the first piano Jackson has designed for Steinway, the relationship beginning in 1998 when he was asked to design the Tricentennial Limited Edition, marking the 300th anniversary of the piano, and in which he sought to simplify the piano’s form, stripping it down to its essential shape. Jackson’s pianos join an ever-growing list of limited edition Steinways, from the period grandeur of the William E. Steinway, a re-creation of the piano launched in 1876 to mark America’s Centennial, or the Imagine series, created to commemorate the 70th birthday of John Lennon. Such instruments offer the company a way to celebrate milestones, a chance to capture the imagination of new and different audiences, and the opportunity to work with artists and designers from other fields. As for that all-important choice of partners, Laura Seele, manager of Steinway & Sons’ Custom Pianos Department, describes it as “a huge challenge! But a wonderful one.” A passion for craftsmanship is a given, but she says they also look for designers who can contribute something “which is distinctly theirs. Designers who are not from the music industry can think about the design of the piano in very refreshing ways.” Jackson, on all these points, seems to fit the brief admirably.
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Dakota Jackson with the Arabesque piano.
Copyright Stefan Weeber
This new collaboration between Steinway and Jackson was commissioned to mark Steinway’s 160th anniversary, and will be limited to 50 instruments. Aside from the ballet position, the term “arabesque” has other connotations. There are the intimate, flowing piano works by Debussy and Schumann that bear the title. As Jackson himself points out, it also conjures up “Moorish design – the lyrical turning and twisting of components. There are many different elements that arabesque conjures, and I wanted them all to be present in the instrument. I wanted to create these layers of experience so that each time you approach the piano and study it, you’re seeing different aspects: some relate to music, some relate to dance form, some relate to various motifs that have evolved over centuries.” On the face of it, there appears to be a logic to a furniture designer turning his skills and creativity to a piano, more than perhaps with any other instrument – not least because of a piano’s sheer size and solidity, and the fact that it so often sits prominently in a domestic setting. But when I suggest this to Jackson, he says he doesn’t see it in that way. “There is that element that a piano is furniture and it’s meant to be in a home environment, to blend into a space, or be a component or a member of that space. But I think of that instrument first alone,” he says. “Rather than blending in, it defines the space. And as such, there’s a lot more freedom.
I don’t have to think about the elements of space, just the importance of the instrument – because it speaks for itself.” Another difference, of course, it that when designing a piano, you’re not, and never can be, starting purely from scratch. With a table, for instance, the only basic rule is that there needs to be a stable horizontal surface to put things on. With a piano, the instrument’s musical mechanism – the result, in Steinway’s case, of more than a century-and-a-half of research and refinement – has to remain unaffected. As Jackson puts it, “One can’t erase that iconic image of a piano. Certainly in its present form the traditional piano has been with us since the beginning of the 20th century, with small changes to allow for current design trends.” Step back further into the 19th and 18th centuries and, he explains, “essentially there was no discipline of industrial design. Most pianos were built by furniture makers who became instrument makers and so as far as that went, they weren’t designed instruments; they were largely utilitarian, with certain types of ornamental details.” By the 20th century, the piano had thus become “an accumulation of various details that had come together over time, but they needed to be cleaned up. So you can’t ignore certain givens about the instrument, such as the serpentine shape of the rim, because that’s what accommodates the casting and the harp within the piano. But then it was a question of how do you wipe the slate clean.” STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Copyright Stefan Weeber
Jackson’s solution was not to just explore the appearance of the instrument, but to think deeply and creatively about what he terms “the experience,” that is, the engagement a musician has with the piano when he sits down to play. “It was a question of understanding how the experience of playing the piano comes together with the physical requirements of the instrument.” Given the instrument’s name, but also the fact that Jackson himself trained as a dancer, it’s appropriate that he says: “I approach design as choreography.” When creating the Arabesque, he asked himself questions about “how you approach the instrument, how it unfolds, how it reveals itself.” This led him to reconsider many aspects of the piano that perhaps are often taken for granted. For example, the prop stick, the arm that holds aloft the lid, has become an “S” shape, perfectly mirroring the shape of the piano’s rim. “The action of lifting the lid and slipping the stick in place is a dance in itself,” says Jackson. “It is so elemental to the design of the piano that we wonder why wasn’t that thought of before?” The piano’s legs, meanwhile, have also been designed to embody the essence of the ballet form. Jackson has given them a pentagonal shape that widens as they extend upwards, twisting around their own axis as they rise toward the base of the instrument. As he puts it: “I envisioned a dancer, her body fully extended – natural balance and discipline. That moment of extreme, exquisite extension seemingly fleeting yet frozen in time.” He’s also tried to lend the rim, which in appearance is one of the piano’s most solid and weighty elements, an impression of greater lightness through giving it a beveled lower edge. The rim’s shape, that serpentine form that weaves around the strings and soundboard, is given further character by two silver bands that run all around the instrument. The “experience” that lies at the root of Jackson’s vision even extends to the very sound the player hears. As a pianist himself (two-and-a-half years ago Jackson gave a solo recital at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall), he is “acutely aware of what the pianist hears and fully aware that the design of the lid is meant to project the sound out and away from the piano. So in a funny way, even though the pianist is closest to the instrument, he doesn’t hear sound in that clear and very distinct way that the audience does.” So Jackson set about rethinking how the lid could work. In the Arabesque, “when the lid lifts, it not only lifts but it separates from the piano, so that it allows more circulation of air around the piano. And since sound waves are carried through the air, there’s a different range – there’s more of that bass range that
meets the musicians as well as the treble at the top. So in a way, it’s a kind of more separated and stereophonic experience that the musician has. It’s more immediate.” When designing the Arabesque, he remained “very conscious of the primary experience of how the sound emanates from the piano, how it reaches the musician’s ears.” In a fascinating analogy, Jackson suggests that another way to think about designing a piano is to compare it to designing a car. “A musician is acutely aware of what the instrument looks like. It’s like getting into a high-performance race car – though you can’t see the outside of it, you have a residual sense of how streamlined the car is and the sense of it moving through space.” Ditto the pianist: Sitting at the keyboard, the performer should be instinctively aware of the whole instrument. More features experienced directly by the pianist include the keyboard lid and the arms at either end of the keyboard, both of which curve in a way that recalls a ballet dancer’s arms. Jackson has also redesigned the music stand, giving it an arc shape. “It’s a more lyrical form and it also allows the sheet music to lay more comfortably against the desk. It’s also on linear bearings, so you can very easily slide the music stand closer to you or farther away. And then the music stand is on a hinge mechanism that not only pivots it up, but it pivots it up and away from the piano, again so there is that separation, and it does allow for more air circulation, which carries the sound with it. So at every moment it’s that blend of choreography and the engineering of sound.” The wood itself is an integral part of the immediate impact of any piano, and for the Arabesque, Jackson has chosen Indonesian Macassar Ebony, which offers an unusual grain of deep black and dark brown stripes. “In choosing woods there are certain veneers that carry with them a very high degree of sophistication and opulence,” he says. As with all the Arabesque’s unique features, this choice of wood is about “enhancement,” about bringing the performer, through an integration of visual, tactile, functional, and acoustic elements, closer to the piano and to what it represents. As Jackson says of his celebratory Steinway: “The ultimate experience of the Arabesque piano is ‘sound and vision.’” n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
London College of Music: London’s first university with All-Steinway School status London College of Music (LCM) at the University of West London became the first university in London to be awarded the coveted All-Steinway School status in October 2011. The award underpins the School’s commitment, as the largest specialist music and performing arts institution in the UK, to provide students with the very best equipment during their undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate studies as well as at our Junior Music College. LCM offers an impressive range of courses to ensure that our students are always one step ahead in their future careers. Our status as an All-Steinway School touches every aspect of what we do: the Steinway piano is used for student practice, recording, experimental sound and in all LCM performances. As a result of this relationship, the School is home to 35 prestigious Steinway pianos, each individually handmade and incomparable for their sound, performance and enduring quality. Alongside our undergraduate and postgraduate courses, LCM incorporates the highly acclaimed LCM Examinations, an international examinations board offering graded and diploma qualifications in music, drama and communications. Every year, LCM Examinations supports the music education of thousands of students across a broad spectrum of subjects, including church music, jazz and musical theatre. Those who undertake these exams, which are held across an extensive network of exam centres worldwide, can
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also gain additional UCAS points towards university entry. Students applying to the university with an LCM grade 8 exam in performance are not required to audition for our undergraduate courses. London College of Music students are now benefiting from a brand new state-of-the-art performance space, four production studios and two Mac labs which opened in autumn 2013. The performance space includes a widerange of industry standard features such as a new stage, theatrical lighting and an advanced sound system. Students will be able to use the new facilities to practice, rehearse and stage performances such as recitals, concerts and theatrical productions, providing them with the essential experience needed to launch their future careers in the industry. Sara Raybould, Director of London College of Music, commented: ‘When you study at the London College of Music you are part of the Steinway experience. Our students have benefited from this relationship with the world-leading brand for nearly two years, providing them with the opportunity to use some of the best pianos in the world. This relationship ensures our students gain the valuable experience and qualifications needed to prepare them for the next stage of their professional careers.’ For further information on the London College of Music please visit www.uwl. ac.uk/academic-schools/music or follow Sara Raybould on Twitter via @sararaybould1 or the School via @LCMLive.
The Schools That Love Their Steinways
By Martin Cullingford
Few musical sights symbolize seriousness quite as much as that of a Steinway piano gracing a concert hall stage.The audience member knows that the sound will be as brilliant as the pianist can make it: The quality of the instrument itself – its tone, its timbre – will not be in doubt. But if this is how an audience member feels, imagine how a student, stepping up to perform or even to practice, must feel. It’s this notion of putting instrumental excellence in – or rather, under – the hands of the great musicians of tomorrow that underpins the idea of All-Steinway Schools.
In order to be designated an All-Steinway School, all pianos in the performance spaces of a school, conservatory, or university must be designed by Steinway & Sons. Far from the relationship ending at purchase, the designation also means that the pianos will be maintained to Steinway’s guidelines, and are subject to regular inspections by Steinway & Sons itself. Steinway will also help institutions achieve the status of an All-Steinway School in the first place by offering advice regarding fundraising and publicity, and helping to create inventories that the institution can present to potential donors, demonstrating what the designation will mean to them in the years ahead. While partnerships between schools and Steinway & Sons may date back to 1877, the All-Steinway initiative dates back just a couple of decades, when Steinway & Sons recognized that several institutions, including the Curtis Institute of Music and Yale School of Music, were already committed to offering all their students and staff access to its pianos. The number of All-Steinway Schools has now reached 160, embracing institutions on five continents, and is ever-growing: All-Steinway Schools continue to account for some of the biggest single orders of pianos from the company – including, in 2009, the purchase of 165 Steinway pianos by the University of Cincinnati CollegeConservatory of Music for $4 million. But as that indicates, becoming an All-Steinway School can be a financially significant aspiration. So
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why do so many make the step? What difference does it make to them? One institution that recently did is the University of Tennessee, which this year (2013) gained All-Steinway status, raising $3.5 million to buy 68 pianos. “These are the finest instruments you can play on, and to allow our students to study and perform on them is exceptional,” says Director of the School of Music Jeffrey Pappas. “What humbles me the most is that there are people who believe in our school so much that they want us to have the finest instruments.” Another institution that gained the status in the past year was Kent State University, which raised $2.7 million to purchase almost 70 new pianos. Explaining why, Denise Seachrist, director of Kent State’s School of Music, says: “Being an All-Steinway School is a significant way in which we can help our students achieve their goals. Through this designation, the School of Music visibly and aurally demonstrates its commitment to ‘excellence in action’ by providing our students and faculty with top-quality teaching and performing instruments which challenge and enhance our talent, learning, and teaching.” It’s not just universities making the step either: Last November (2012), Gresham’s school became the first prep and pre-prep school in the U.K. to do so, and a ceremony saw the instruments blessed by the school chaplain before being performed on by pupils for the first time. But to fully understand the importance and impact of being an All-Steinway School, this spring, Steinway & Sons carried out a survey of 150 academic leaders from American institutions. Participants included directors (14 percent), deans (23 percent), departmental chairs (32 percent), and professors (31 percent). These are the people shaping music education at the highest level – and shaping the lives of the next generation of world-leading musicians. They also represent a broad range
Photo courtesy of Bob Christy
Above: Alexander Schimpf (left) giving a master class at Kent State University. Schimpf was the winner of the 2011 Cleveland International Piano Competition. Left: The Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall at the University of Tennessee.
University of Tennessee photo
A Tiny Scholarship Helps Transform the University of Tennessee into an All-Steinway School By today’s standards, $250 could buy a nice evening out in New York City. But what Jim Powell did with that seemingly modest sum in the form of a scholarship from Sears & Roebuck is nothing short of epic. In 1955, Powell used the proceeds to attend the University of Tennessee (UT) in Knoxville. An animal science major whose entrepreneurial talents emerged so quickly that he soon shifted to business, the visionary resident of tiny Limestone went on to create Powell Companies, one of the Volunteer State’s premier builders, with more than 500 employees. Powell never forgot that scholarship. And UT never overlooked an opportunity to tap into his boundless energy and contagious enthusiasm. Most recently, Powell and his wife, Sandy, a fellow student whom he courted during his college years, spearheaded the $3.5 million campaign that made UT an All-Steinway School. With help from 58 donors, the team effort resulted in the purchase of 68 new pianos. “Sandy and I feel strongly that our students deserve the opportunity to develop their talents on the best pianos in the world, so we are thrilled about the School of Music’s new All-Steinway designation,” Powell said. The 123,000-square-foot Natalie L. Haslam Music Center is a world-class showpiece on the UT campus that boasts 116 pianos by Steinway & Sons. The magnificent Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall is contained in the $40 million complex that features instruments from both Hamburg and New York factories. “We can’t imagine a better place to show off the Steinways,” Powell added.
At Leeds College of Music we know that a global career starts with worldclass facilities. Our students have access to 60 Steinway-designed pianos and a pioneering conservatoire experience.
www.lcm.ac.uk | @LeedsMusic
The LISZT SCHOOL of Music Weimar It was the superstar of the 19th century, the great pianist, composer and pedagogue Franz Liszt who first had the idea of establishing a school of music in Weimar. In 1835, he had for the first time ideas about founding “progressive schools of music”. Highly-qualified instrumentalists were to be trained for the new music of their time. In 1872 Liszt’s student Carl Müllerhartung realized this dream. Since 1956 the school bears the name of its initiator. Today, the LISZT SCHOOL of Music is a lively, internationally oriented school in the European Cultural City of Weimar. About 850 students from around 50 countries are offered a broad selection of subjects in performance, music pedagogy and musicology. It sets benchmarks with its international master classes, competitions, exchange programs, festivals and conferences. Four completely renovated and historically important locations are distributed around the city, but are nevertheless within walking distance of each other. One can study just about every aspect of music: all orchestral instruments, piano, guitar, accordion, voice, music theatre, organ, early music, composition, conducting, instrumental pedagogy, music education, church music, jazz instruments, music theory, musicology and arts management. The school emphasizes cooperative effort both in the teaching and the making of music, in the dialogue between scholarship and research and in diverse cooperative linkages to professional praxis. The modern musician in the role of an ensemble player is the focus of training, whether active in a classical symphony orchestra, an early music consort or a big band, working in high schools or in management, or performing as orchestra musician, chamber musician or music educator. To ensure that our students have the opportunity to focus on their studies in the best possible way the LISZT SCHOOL of Music and its patrons offer a wide range of financial support. One of the most important supporters is THE LISZT FOUNDATION, joint founded by Steinway & Sons. Through its contribution the school’s Master Classes, International Music Competitions und many young artists experience magnificent support.
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Curtis Institute of Music photo Kronberg Academy photo
Above: A student plays the piano at the Curtis Institute of Music. Right: Masters in performance Dai Miyata and Ann Naretto play at the Kronberg Academy of Music.
of American institutions, both public and private (62 percent and 38 percent, respectively), and of varying sizes (27 percent owning more than 100 pianos, just over half owning 26 to 100, and 18 percent owning fewer than that). All responses were anonymous. The survey was broken down into four parts: Performance Quality, Recruitment, Investment Value, and Perception. Happily suggesting it has all been money well spent, 100 percent of all respondents agreed (from “somewhat agree” through to “strongly agree”) with the statements: “Being an All-Steinway School provides our students with the best instruments possible for the study of music,” and “Being an All-Steinway School satisfies the high expectations of our piano faculty.” As one respondent expanded, “When I’m teaching, I don’t have to worry about the pianos interfering in my students’ progress. The students won’t
The Kronberg Academy That the Kronberg Academy is one of the top music educational institutions in Germany is well known. It is most famous for its string connections, for violinists, violists, and cellists – indeed its cello festival is famous. Yet all of these disciplines will work regularly with piano accompanists, many of the musicians will play piano as well (there are indeed some violinists, such as Germany’s Julia Fischer and Canada’s Alexandre Da Costa, who are equally as proficient on the piano even if they don’t usually play it in public), and the piano is in many ways a foundation for any music school. And to see Kronberg as a center only for string excellence would be entirely limiting. It is all-embracing in its vision, and casts a wide net – witness the “Kronberg Academy Master” program for soloists of the future, which was established in cooperation with the Frankfurt University for Music and Performing Arts. Kronberg was, in 2009, the second training school in Germany to become an All-Steinway School (after the Hamburg Conservatory). It takes great pride in being a strings-focused institution that – against the stereotype – provides top-quality pianos. And its sponsors – the Kronberg Rotary Club, the Marguerite von Grunelius-Stiftung Foundation, the Leyda Ungerer Music Circle, and several other, anonymous benefactors – can also be proud.
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AMADEUS International School Vienna - where excellence meets passion
An elegant three-storey Viennese fin de siècle building, with terraces and long windows, is surrounded by green profusion. In the verdant park full of ancient poplar and linden trees, the only sound is that of birds. At 3 pm there is a sudden transformation: the building comes alive, windows are thrown open, young voices can be heard. And then, slowly, the sound of music fills the park. The school day at AMADEUS International School Vienna has ended and the students have begun to practise. AMADEUS International School is Austria’s first All-Steinway School. In the landscape of schools in Central Europe it is a unique institution: it combines intensive classical music training with an English-language K-12 academic education based on the International Baccalaureate curriculum. Rounding out these two pillars is the option of boarding, enabling young musicians from around the world to study in Vienna when they are most receptive and enthusiastic. AMADEUS Vienna is a perfect place for children with exceptional music talent: it is a school that nurtures their special gift while supporting their overall academic development. One of the founding principles of AMADEUS Vienna is that the performing arts, which impart
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values such as expression and communication, are important for any educational path or career. Giving children an academic education in conjunction with training in an instrument or the voice develops special strengths that will accompany them the rest of their lives. Indeed, the pianos at AMADEUS Vienna – seventeen brand new Steinway pianos, including four grand pianos and a “D” concert grand in the main recital hall – are not the school’s sole attraction. While sounds of pianos and violins waft from the windows, a frisbee floats through the trees. A couple of kids are kicking a soccer ball. A slackline is ready for the next balancing act. In a world of passive music consumption, it is wonderful to experience active music making and know that young hands and minds are still thirsting for music. In a world full of “good enough”, there is a special magic in hearing young musicians strive for perfection. This indeed gives one hope for the future. www.amadeus-vienna.com
John Kish IV Photography/Moravian College
The Moravian Way Is All-Steinway Moravian College in eastern Pennsylvania, the newest All-Steinway School, tells a uniquely American story. Imbued with the teachings of John Amos Comenicus, followers of Protestant martyr John Hus left central Europe for what would become Bethlehem, a rustic settlement about 60 miles outside Philadelphia. A bishop known for pioneering educational principles, Comenicus viewed education as a vehicle of salvation. For Moravians, schools became a cornerstone in the New World, and what began as a girl’s boarding house in May 1742, evolved into the present-day Moravian College. Music formed the foundation for religious services and cultural engagements. Among the Music Department’s many notable structures, the Single Brethren’s House served as a hospital during the Revolutionary War, meriting a visit from Gen. George Washington in 1783. Later, in his second term as president, Washington would petition Moravian to admit two of his grandnieces. Such precious heritage practically demanded the presence of handcrafted pianos by Steinway & Sons, according to one proud Moravian alumnus. “As the sixth oldest college in the country, Moravian College has a rich and vibrant history that fits well with the Steinway brand,” says President Bryon Grigsby. “We could not be prouder to join the All-Steinway program and continue our rich history on the finest pianos in the world.” Moravian recently achieved the designation with a gift from late alumna Betty Louise Aierstock Moore, whose family generously donated $350,000 for new pianos. The college now has a total of 27 instruments from Steinway & Sons.
Above: Moravian College receives one of its 27 Steinway pianos.
have to ‘battle’ the pianos to get the results they need.” It’s this quality of instrument that invariably emerges as paramount in how a university feels about its All-Steinway status. “Students and faculty have access to the best quality instruments in achieving their maximum technical and artistic qualities,” said another. “No excuses due to a ‘bad’ non-responsive piano.” But satisfaction only means so much, of course, if it doesn’t lead to great results, so crucially, 99 percent of respondents also felt their All-Steinway status “Enhances the performance levels of our piano students,” while 98 percent felt it “enhances our ability to do better in competitions.” It also enhances how others perceive an institution: 93 percent felt “Being an All-Steinway School has had a positive effect on national accreditations,” while 99 percent felt it “has a positive influence on our image.” Linking a university to a prestigious brand mattered for many: “Close identification with an iconic musical name, which means something both to those musically sophisticated and to the general public” was important, said one. “We are showing the public the value that our university puts on the arts,” said another. STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Edinburgh’s Music School Celebrates World Class Piano Status The City of Edinburgh Music School has become an ‘All-Steinway School,’ a designation it will share with around 100 specialist institutions across the world. The school has become one of four Steinway schools in the UK but will be the only school where all pianos are Steinway. The City of Edinburgh Music School, which is widely regarded as one of the top music schools in the country, is based at the new Broughton High School and Flora Stevenson’s Primary School. It is proud to be a fully comprehensive and inclusive part of the state-maintained sector. The school has four performing spaces, over 25 soundinsulated practice rooms, a recording studio and a range of high quality instruments including 25 Steinway pianos. City Education Leader, Cllr Paul Godzik, said: “The City of Edinburgh Music School is a centre of excellence that produces individuals who go on to make an impact across the world. The facilities and staff at the school are exceptional and becoming part of the Steinway network is something the City and Scotland can be proud of. Achieving All Steinway status means that the school has joined some of the world’s most prestigious music institutions, and I am delighted for the staff and pupils. Ensuring that every child has the best start in life is a key priority for the Capital Coalition, and a lot of hard work is taking place in our schools to help our pupils achieve this goal.” City of Edinburgh Music School Director, Tudor Morris, said: “Our talented pupils deserve the best but we still feel incredibly privileged. It is a great pleasure to see our talented young musicians learning and performing on the finest instruments available. Hopefully it will make them practice and progress even more. I constantly tell them they are the luckiest school students in the country - now it is official!” Glen Gough, Managing Director of Steinway & Sons, said: “The City of Edinburgh Music School is the only school in the UK to equip their school exclusively with hand crafted Steinway & Sons pianos. We are honoured the school has selected Steinway as their piano of choice.”
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The school offers a complete specialist music programme from primary to secondary level in two neighbouring centres. As well as classical teaching the school offers expertise in rock, jazz and traditional Scottish music. Students get intensive training from an early age involving regular practice and individual expert tuition from some of the most talented teachers in the country. Students often secure places in some of the most prestigious colleges, universities, ensembles and orchestras in the world. City of Edinburgh Music School Director, Tudor Morris, went on to say: “Edinburgh is one of the top cultural capitals of the world and having the Steinway connection results in many top international artists contacting us during the various festivals in the city asking to use our facilities. Of course we readily agree because it is an inspiration to our students to find themselves in the next room to the likes of Joanna MacGregor, Elena Riu, Ang Li, Andrzej Pikul, Lenore Raphael and PierreLaurent Aimard. Recently the school has been in the headlines several times: A pupil was selected to sing at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, another pupil won the Amnesty International protest song award, and the school was shortlisted for a Royal Philharmonic Society Award for their performance at the Cultural Olympics in London, in the Learning and Participation category. This year alone students have shared the stage with Dame Evelyn Glennie, Julian Lloyd Webber, Donald Runnicles, En Shao and Garry Walker; and former students of the school include jazz saxophonist Tommy Smith, composer Martyn Bennett, guitarist Morgan Szymanski and harpist Maeve Gilchrist. Sir Simon Rattle, CBE was so impressed with the young musicians that he agreed to become patron of the School. With all the advantages of specialist tuition and the social mix and curricula choices of large state Primary and Secondary schools The City of Edinburgh Music School has become Scotland’s most popular specialist provision.
Photo courtesy of Conservatori Liceu
Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu There can’t be many music institutions that can trace their roots back to 1837, and even among those, few boast as storied a heritage as Barcelona’s Liceu. Among its alumni are Montserrat Caballé, Jaume Aragall, Josep Bros, Victoria de los Ángeles, and Conchita Supervia. It was the conservatory that gave rise to the famous Liceu Opera. And anyone who has seen Engelbert Humperdinck’s famous opera Hansel and Gretel there can enjoy the knowledge that Humperdinck himself taught at the conservatory. The conservatory offers a comprehensive music and arts education at various levels, including college degree and professional development. There are various instrumental and voice programs; prospective students can, for instance, decide to study advanced instrumental in classical and contemporary music, or the same level for flamenco fusion. And they do have some very cool master classes, taught by the likes of, recently, Richard Bona, Omar Sosa, and Mauricio Vallina. The reasons for the Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu to become an All-Steinway School need little explanation. Put simply, it’s one of the finest conservatories in the world, and so the finest instruments are what it deserves.
Greg Helgeson photo
Above: Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu, Barcelona. Right: The University of Minnesota has been an All-Steinway School since 2005.
“Our image has changed completely,” claimed another still; “Everywhere we go, the first thing we mention when talking about our school and program is that we are an All-Steinway School with new Steinway grand pianos in every studio, practice room, and performance space.” Another respondent referred to “The phenomenal recognition we receive internally and externally at our university. Most of our community, and specifically our audiences, beam with delight and are in awe of this achievement.” In a competitive educational environment, the ability to attract the very best students is of great importance. Respondents felt that All-Steinway School status helped here, with 96 percent thinking it assisted in the recruitment of more students, and 94 percent a higher quality of student. Interestingly, 84 percent also felt it had an impact on recruiting students in other music concentrations who are not specifically piano majors. The brand also carries abroad: 87 percent felt it helped attract international students. “Being an All-Steinway School attracts more students of a higher level from the U.S. and abroad to study at our university,” confirmed one institution. Meanwhile, 94 percent even felt All-Steinway status helped create happier students, and comments suggested that having Steinways to play inspired a greater commitment to practice. Perhaps there’s something in the claim made by Lydia
Artymiw, professor of piano at the University of Minnesota, an All-Steinway School since 2005, that half of the pressure to provide the audience with a top-quality musical experience is eliminated by the presence of a great piano. Her university also found that switching to Steinways helped solve another problem: The extremely dry conditions during the school year had proved problematic for their previous pianos. Their Steinways, however, are holding up well, as indeed is the value of Steinways for others: 95 percent of respondents agreed that “Being an All-Steinway School has proven to be an appreciating asset to our facilities.” Statistically and anecdotally then – and, most important, musically – it seems that becoming an All-Steinway School has reaped rewards for those institutions that have made the commitment. As one survey respondent concluded, “Becoming an All-Steinway School was one of the best and smartest investments for our university.” Or, as another simply put it: “WE LOVE OUR STEINWAYS!” n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
The Steinway Label By James Jolly
There’s a useful phrase for things so obvious that we simply don’t notice them:“hidden in plain sight.”And if there was ever an idea that was hidden in plain sight, it was for the world’s bestknown piano manufacturer to make recordings, on its own instruments, featuring some of the most dynamic of today’s performers.Three years ago, thanks to one of those occasional business alignments of the stars, Steinway & Sons found itself part of a stable that included one of the United States’ most visionary and successful retailers of CDs: ArkivMusic. It was rather like discovering a long-lost sibling, only in this case with an added extra: a shared passion for music. 54
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It may have been a question of gamekeeper turning poacher – a record retailer actually making recordings – but it was a decision built on sound business foundations, as ArkivMusic President Eric Feidner explained. “Part of the reason we started a label is because we have a lot of experience on the consumer side. So we have lots of direct relationships with people buying music. We have lots of information about what they like, what they’re looking for, and what sells. So we’ve got an advantage that made sense to take advantage of and use. We have lots of relationships. We have a great marketing position. We have connections in the media, and in radio and in retail – so if you can come up with a recording with its positioning based upon what you believe people are looking for, it can be a commercial success. Our objective in making a recording on the Steinway label is to record a great artist on an exceptional instrument in great sound – beautiful audiophile-quality sound – and then use everything we have to get the word out and market it.” And in a very short space of time, it’s a recipe that has been conspicuously successful. One of the secrets of the Steinway & Sons label’s success has been the canny choice of artists – artists who invariably see their relationship with an audience as a much closer one
than many “traditional” musicians. One perfect example is the Californian pianist Lara Downes, who created quite a stir with her album Exiles’ Café, a project with a strong and engaging narrative: Basically it envisages a musical coming-together or meeting point for composers who had left their homelands, become émigrés, or are simply travelling from point A to point B. Composers like Bartók sit side by side with Kurt Weill, ° Chopin, Korngold, Martinu, and Stravinsky. These displaced voices are harnessed in this album to magical effect. Not surprisingly, Downes sees her recordings in a very particular way. “For me, the wonderful thing about recording has been to capture the ideas – which in my case tend to be the story ideas – around my albums. You can do that in concert, but a recording is really a beautiful way to capture the strange relationships between works and create new connections between various parts of the repertoire.” And for Downes, as for many performers today, the recording takes on a life of its own. “The idea of a recording as a musical calling card is a tremendous thing! And I like to look at as many connections between the album and the touring schedule as I can. I feel as classical artists – partly just because of the time line for booking concerts and the very different time line for putting out albums – there’s sometimes not an efficient connection and it’s nice to try to make it connect as much as possible. I look at the way things operate in the pop and rock worlds and it’s completely tied together. You’re touring in support of an album and it’d be a good direction for us to take as well, because it expands the impact of a performance and reaches an audience in a different way.” Downes loves meeting her audiences, signing copies of her albums, sharing ideas, and sometimes getting feedback that opens up new musical avenues for her. “A lot of conversations I have with listeners after concerts remind
me of ideas I’ve had, and they’ve inspired me to look deeper into ideas I’ve had. It’s good to have that affirmation from someone who is committed to the project in a different way. It can be very powerful.” For Feidner, the artist who goes the extra mile, who engages with the entire “food chain” from recording studio to albumrelated concert, is a near-perfect creature. “Artists have got to be out there performing, and getting the word out themselves. It’s a different kind of a marketplace from what it was 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. It’s not as if these artists have come out of school, been signed by a manager, then a record label, and will be looked after forever. It’s a tremendous amount of hard work that’s required on the part of an artist today. They have STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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to cultivate their own customers, their own relationships. And we have a number of artists who are doing just that, and it makes a big difference. Again, we’re in this world that’s not the way it used to be. You don’t have the outlets all over the place that sell physical CDs. In fact, in the U.S., you have almost no physical stores. The speciality music merchants simply don’t exist. They’re all gone. In Manhattan, for example, there are no record stores – and now even the bigger chains like HMV, Virgin, Tower are all gone.” It’s no particular surprise that the key artists on the Steinway label are pianists – people like Lara Downes, Andrew Rangell, Jeffrey Biegel, Anderson & Roe, The 5 Browns, and Jenny Lin – so Canadian Brass might seem a little out of place. That is, until Feidner explains that another member of the family that includes Steinway & Sons and ArkivMusic is Conn-Selmer, “who are the foremost manufacturer of brass and woodwind instruments in the U.S. So when making records with Canadian Brass it makes sense – it’s more the idea that Steinway the label represents quality, rather than being just a piano label. So we will be expanding somewhat to other types of instrumentation, although usually including a piano.” So it will come as no surprise, then, to find the German chanteuse Ute Lemper partnered by one of Germany’s finest string quartets, the Vogler Quartet, in music that revisits the Weimar Republic and the cultural melting pot that positively bubbled with energy for those brief years in the 1920s. A glance through the Steinway catalogue’s recent releases reveals an eclectic yet always very personal response. The 5 Browns bring their 50 fingers to bear on one of the 20th century’s most startling ballet scores, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring (100 years old this year), while Francis Poulenc (who died 50 years ago) is remembered in a quite magical
alliance with Edith Piaf – The Rascal and the Sparrow weaves together Poulenc solo works with piano transcriptions by Roberto Piana of some of Piaf’s most memorable songs; Antonio Pompa-Baldi is the pianist. A future release, rather in this vein, is a collection of some of Billie Holliday’s greatest songs transcribed by Jed Distler and played by Lara Downes, who also has a disc of American music with cellist Zuill Bailey in the can. Expect a disc of Mozart from Anderson & Roe and Stravinsky from Jenny Lin – and there are some mouthwatering debuts from Yoonie Han, Stanislav Khristenko, and the winner of the American Pianists Association Fellowship, Sean Chen – the word on the street about him is “amazing!” It’s a lineup that makes one thankful that what was hidden in plain sight has become a living, breathing reality. n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Tales from the Steinway Halls
By Rebecca Hutter
The Steinway Halls are a group of buildings belonging to Steinway & Sons. Filled with pianos and pristinely decorated, the Steinway Halls are often described as meccas for pianists, functioning as showrooms, sales departments, and recital venues for pianists in all major cities across the world. Since the first hall opened in 1866, the halls have not only become tributes to the piano and pianists, but also act as living museums of the piano. Almost every famous concert pianist, past and present, jazz or classical, will have entered through the doors of a Steinway Hall to play the pianos. As a result, each hall holds a treasure trove of stories, experiences, and famous meetings. The chandelier and the Steinway
Interior photograph of Steinway Hall in New York showing the Viennese chandelier.
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Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images
When the Steinways built the second (and current) Steinway Hall in New York, they wanted to bring the very best of European culture to America, combining the best marble from Italy and Greece with their favorite American artists and architects. Hanging in the center of the rotunda is a chandelier made from Viennese crystal and designed as a replica of the 19th century model from Buckingham Palace. Directly below stands a concert grand. Every few years, the magnificent light fitting is taken down piece by piece to be cleaned and have the bulbs changed. One day, as the chandelier was undergoing its maintenance, a link broke, and in seconds the chandelier
technicians have an incredible knack of getting to know each Steinway Artist and, with an almost impeccable success rate, it is very rare for performers to leave unsatisfied and have to return for a second sitting. On one freezing winter day in the early ’90s, Billy Joel came into the basement with his 9-year-old daughter to select a piano. Despite the artist being one of the few non-classical Steinway Artists, the technicians stayed true to form and confident in their abilities. When he arrived, one of the technicians, Dirk, put a dot in the book next to the serial number of the piano he believed the songwriter would choose. Joel was desperate to know of the prediction, but was sternly told he must make up his own mind and not be influenced by anything other than his own reaction. After trying out all five pianos, he selected his favorite. When he had made up his mind, he was desperate to consult the book; the pianist was left in utter disbelief when he saw he had picked out the very same piano Dirk had predicted hours before. Since then, Joel has continued to be an advocate of Steinway. On numerous occasions, he has been known to run into Steinway Hall asking for a practice room to write down a new tune before forgetting it: “I must play and write down immediately!” he would exclaim. On one occasion, on his way out of the hall, he casually told the receptionist that he had just finished writing one of the songs for his River of Dreams album. Unfortunately, she was left so starstruck she forgot the name of the song almost instantly … much to the disappointment of all her colleagues!
Photo by Sarah Shatz
slipped, crashing onto the piano below. The sound of the glass shattering onto the piano strings echoed down the corridors and all around Steinway Hall. Upon hearing the noise, one of the Steinway sons ran into the rotunda to see what the commotion was about. Almost in tears, the teenager shrieked, “My piano! My piano!” as he saw his precious Steinway crushed by the chandelier. Little did he know (or perhaps care) that the chandelier was worth at least 20 times more money than the piano!
Guessing the right piano for The Piano Man When selecting a piano, every pianist is given a selection of five pianos to play. The
Steinway Artist Billy Joel was astounded that a Steinway technician correctly predicted which piano he would select as his own. Joel is pictured in 2012 with Ron Losby, president of Steinway & Sons-Americas, and Dr. Paul Wyse, an artist who painted a portrait of Joel (visible at right) that hangs in Steinway Hall.
Rachmaninoff meets Horowitz With the warm “living room” style of the rotunda, or the music school style buzz of the first floor, the basement of Manhattan’s Steinway Hall is much quieter, unadorned, and filled with pianos in different stages of preparation. One of the most famous events to take place in the basement of Steinway Hall was the meeting between two piano giants: Sergei Rachmaninoff and Vladimir Horowitz. By 1928, Rachmaninoff was already well established on American shores and his career was in full swing. His romantic compositions and phenomenal keyboard talents had truly captivated his generation. It had been 20 years since the premier of his Piano Concerto No. 3, STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
in which he had also performed as the soloist. Fritz Kreisler, violin virtuoso and a close friend to Rachmaninoff, told him “some young Russian plays [your] third concerto like nothing I ever heard. You have to meet him,” he advised. Wasting no time, Rachmaninoff sent an invitation to the young virtuoso to visit him at his apartment. Having only arrived to New York one day before, Horowitz was surprised to have been summoned by the celebrity, but went to his apartment and played Medtner’s Fairy Tale in E minor for the composer. It did not take long for the two pianists to decide that if Horowitz was to perform his third piano concerto, Rachmaninoff should give him some guidance. The pair headed to the basement of Steinway Hall, one of the only places where it was possible to play two concert grand pianos side by side without having to pay a huge amount or book in advance. Rachmaninoff played the orchestral part on one Steinway piano, while Horowitz played the solo part on another. Sitting side by side at the two pianos, the dynamic duo flew through the exceptionally difficult concerto, and Rachmaninoff, known for his stern nature, barely made a comment about Horowitz’s technical or musical abilities. In fact, throughout the rehearsal there was very little verbal exchange between the musicians at all, apart from one agreement to cut a small section near the end of the first piano cadenza. It was only later, and in private, that Rachmaninoff admitted his amazement at the young virtuoso, telling a friend how he had been completely astounded by Horowitz’s playing; “with the fury and voraciousness of a tiger … he swallowed it whole. … He had the courage, the intensity, and daring that make for greatness,” Rachmaninoff praised, showing genuine respect of Horowitz’s talent. After that meeting, the Third Piano Concerto was to become Horowitz’s trademark, and the two remained close until Rachmaninoff’s death in 1943.
Vladimir Horowitz, who always entered Steinway Hall in New York via the loading dock.
57th Street. Instead, he would ask to have his car drop him off around the back, entering the basement through the significantly less glamorous loading dock.
Lang Lang makes American debut
The Tully Potter Collection
Papa Horowitz and the back door Walking through the door of Steinway Hall in New York is almost a ceremony in itself. Knowing that every single Steinway Artist has taken those very same steps when selecting their piano is something that many pianists relish. There is, however, one exception: Horowitz, or “Papa Horowitz” as many of the Steinway staff affectionately refer to him. In fact, the piano maestro is the only artist who has ever refused to enter through the front door on
With the opening of Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall in New York came to be used less and less as a performance venue. However, some professional artists or students from “All Steinway” music schools may perform in the rotunda upon request for intimate recitals. At the age of 14, Lang Lang visited America on a trip with his father. The teenager was in awe of the great city and the culture it had to offer. After a visit to Carnegie Hall earlier in the day, Lang Lang was taken across the road to Steinway Hall for his first American recital. STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
World Economic Forum photo by Michael Wuertenberg
His teacher, Yin Chenzong, had invited a large group of prominent critics and educators to listen to him play his American debut. Despite a few last minute jitters, the young virtuoso, introduced by his teacher as a “young star with a bright future,” certainly did not disappoint as he played the piano to a small audience in the rotunda. He was given glowing reviews, and later that evening, Chenzong, thrilled by the young pianist, told his father, “very shortly we should have offers of scholarships from several different institutions. It will enable Lang Lang to remain in America, find management, and launch his career.” He was, of course, right. It was the beginning of Lang Lang’s superstar career, and little did Lang Lang (or his intimate audience) know at the time, but that very concert was to launch what has become one of the greatest piano careers of our time; when returning to the rotunda 15 years later for a very modest run-through before a Carnegie Hall recital, he could barely get through his first piece without
Lang Lang in 2010 after a performance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
an excitable family spotting the famous superstar through the window!
Steinways in the blitz In England, the Steinway Hall had survived World War I without too much difficulty, returning to normal business after 1918. But, 22 years later, the company was not to have such luck. In one blitz during the 1940s, the building suffered a direct hit by a German bomb. The entire building was shattered. Every piano, smashed. The hit was a double blow for Steinway, as many of the Hamburg pianos had been hurriedly shipped over to England once the war became inevitable. Over the following weeks and months, Steinway technicians endeavored to rescue any parts of the pianos they could, searching through bombed-out buildings for damaged instruments and picking out glass fragments that had been blown into the cases. STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Yale University’s Woolsey Hall in New Haven, Connecticut. As usual, Rubinstein was very polite to the Steinway staff and thanked the piano tuner, Franz Mohr, for tuning his piano. He asked, “Young man, did you clean my keys?” Mohr, already nervous about working with the pianist for the first time, did not realize the importance of the question, replying, “Maestro, yes! I always clean the keys.” “No, no, no!” Rubinstein shouted. “Didn’t Bill tell you this? Nobody touches my keys! They are
From that point on, the London branch gained a reputation for its determined repairs department, and to this day Steinway Hall in London continues to refurbish around 60 damaged pianos each year.
Rubinstein and hairspray It isn’t just the technicians who develop close relationships with Steinway Artists. The staffs at the Steinway Halls have a crucial role in the piano selection process, but it is the piano tuners, who travel around the world with the artists, who must maintain the Steinway standard throughout their tours. As a result, they form great relationships with the artists, getting to know them inside out, and can report back to the workers at the Steinway Halls before the next selections. Arthur Rubinstein was waiting in his dressing room before going on stage to perform at
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Arthur Rubinstein, who had hairspray applied to his piano keys.
Even the most astute of men are sometimes frustrated by planning laws. A particularly interesting example of this occurred when Frederick T. Steinway was building Steinway Hall in New York. The boss wanted to live above the shop, which was understandable, so he commissioned the creation of an elegantly appointed apartment, upstairs at Steinway Hall. That would have been that, and all seemed to be progressing fine until … Frederick T. Steinway was alerted to the building’s complex planning laws, under which no residential apartment was allowed. A small fortune had been spent on the apartment and this was a keenly felt blow. Salvation seemed to be at hand, though, when it was finally realized that there was a loophole. Steinway was informed that caretakers were allowed to live on the premises, so if he could be formally appointed as the caretaker as well as the, well, boss, he could live in his apartment for as long as he held the less illustrious of those titles. It must have been a dilemma for Steinway. Or perhaps not. He dismissed the notion. No Steinway would be listed as caretaker of the firm – he would take care of it, and this he did very well for many years, but caretaker? Not a bit of it. And so, though few know of it, the apartment stands, elegant, complete, but empty.
The Tully Potter Collection
The Secret Apartment
now so slippery I won’t be able to play. I’ll have to cancel.” Luckily, there were a few people waiting around backstage, and one of the stage managers came over to Rubinstein and the remorseful piano tuner, suggesting that they use hairspray to make the keys sticky. He told Mohr to go onto the stage – where the orchestra and audience were already waiting expectantly – and spray the can 6 inches away from the keys up and down the keyboard. “Wait for 10 minutes,” he advised, and then, turning to Rubinstein, said, “The keys will be so ‘grippy,’ Maestro, you will love it!” Mohr, following the instructions, walked on the stage with the can of hairspray in hand and carried out the task, receiving a few laughs and applause from the somewhat surprised audience. Ten minutes later, Rubinstein took to the stage to play Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto. He loved the feel of the keys so much that from that point on, he would ask Mohr (who would go on to become Steinway’s Head Concert Technician) to carry the hairspray wherever they went, and spray the keys before every performance!
During World War II, Steinway & Sons in New York built, among other things, assault glider components.
Steinway in the war Pianos have not always been the only thing to come out of the Steinway Halls. During World War II, both Steinway businesses in Hamburg and New York were shut down as they did their part to contribute to their side of the war effort. In Hamburg, the Steinway business had been managed by the eldest son, who had remained in Germany to run the business while the rest of the family had taken on a new and very different life in New York. In the lead-up to the war, the Hamburg factory was nationalized and prevented from making pianos. Instead, its resources were used to make plane decoys, bunk beds, and wooden swastikas. Yet across the pond, Steinway in New York was also being forced into the war effort, but this time supporting the other side by making gliders, coffins, and upright pianos for U.S. military troops. The war undoubtedly put a strain on the family firm, but Steinway & Sons was not to be defeated, and returned to making pianos shortly after the war was over. n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Steinway Artists Rufus Wainwright
an Elton Johnesque ballad with added, complex flecks of bitterness (John for his part has called Wainwright “the greatest songwriter on Earth”). And, let us not forget, he has composed his first opera. As any opera composer will tell you, it is an exhausting, all-consuming process that requires a thorough understanding and feeling for musical textures. He has even performed some of Berlioz’s great song-cycle Les Nuits d’Ete on several occasions – and no piece is more conscious of sonic color. Upon becoming a Steinway Artist, he said, “I grew up playing my grandmother’s 100-year-old Steinway. That instrument is still the spiritual center of our family’s musical legacy.” Which is something many of his admirers feel every time he takes to the stage.
Rufus Wainwright A comparatively recent addition to the family of Steinway Artists, Rufus Wainwright was inducted to their roster in 2012. It seemed a natural step for an artist still most often called a pop star, but for whom that term feels far too limiting. Wainwright is a very fine pianist. But he’s a singer and composer who cares about sound and about the way that sound is structured – through a song, but also through the instrument he plays. He brings to his work a deep awareness of many musical styles. His work has encompassed tributes to Judy Garland, as well as to Schubert Lieder, while his great song “Going to a Town” feels somewhat like
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At the same time Wainwright became part of the Steinway Artists roster, a composer whose name is emblazoned on many of the movie posters of our multiplexes joined him. It’s important to reflect on the influence of some extremely fine composers in the film industry today – the Hans Zimmers, the Danny Elfmans, the Alexandre Desplats, the David Arnolds – and among any list of the best of them should be found the name of Carter Burwell. After a childhood in which learning the piano was an important part, followed by a great (and temporary) disillusionment, he rose through the ranks of punk rock. Burwell seemed to draw from that an awareness of the beat of counter-culture. It is surely no accident that the film directors with whom he is most closely associated, among them Spike Jonze and the Coen brothers, play – despite their fame – around the periphery of mainstream culture. They observe from the side, draw from it what inspires them, and laughingly throw pebbles at the center. Burwell’s scores perfectly match the satirical tellers of tales and tellers of truths. Somehow they manage to at once feel subversive and yet of our culture. Miller’s Crossing, The Big Lebowski, Being
Left: Carter Burwell Right: Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields
John Malkovich – there was something of the outsider as well as the folk hero in all of these. And yet, no matter the stylistic vein, for serious composers the music needs the right instruments to truly fly. And Burwell has said of his Steinway, “The bell-like tone of the upper register and the sonority of the bass are incomparable. The real appeal, however, is that the music in my head translates transparently through the instrument.”
Cy Coleman Funny how some renowned composers start off as superb instrumentalists, only to see their piano careers overshadowed. It happened to John Barry (trumpeter), it has happened to Neil Sedaka (such a fine pianist that he even once entered the International Tchaikovsky Competition), and it certainly happened to Cy Coleman. Coleman, or Seymour Kaufman as he was born, was performing at Steinway Hall in New York, not to mention Carnegie Hall, by the time he was 9 (and starting when he was
6), and later was the lead attraction of the Cy Coleman Trio. But then – Broadway! After some notable pop songs, including “Witchcraft,” and an early show or two, in 1964 he joined with Dorothy Fields – one of the great partnerships in Broadway history – and book writer Neil Simon, and Sweet Charity was created. “Big Spender,” “If My Friends Could See me Now,” and other songs became standards, and Coleman’s path was set. These days his reputation largely rests on three shows: Sweet Charity, the brilliant City of Angels, and Barnum, the circus-infused musical that famously starred Jim Dale and Glenn Close (and Michael Crawford in its West End production). Surprisingly, none of the three are revived as often as might be expected. City of Angels, which unaccountably flopped financially when it moved from New York to London, has been enmeshed in a web of difficult copyright intricacies, Barnum requires an entire cast to learn circus skills (a very decent production was recently mounted in Chichester, England, but so-so reviews meant the expected West End transfer never happened), and STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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Sweet Charity is seen from time to time but with nothing like the frequency of, say, Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret. None of which means, perhaps paradoxically, that Coleman’s own star has dimmed. He’s probably still better known than Kander and Ebb. But Coleman the pianist? People forget. Yet listen to some of those old records – the 1960 “Playboy’s Theme” with Coleman’s piano line perfectly weighted through the now silky, now jazzy orchestral accompaniment, for instance, or the shimmering piano trills – and there’s no doubt that here is a very fine jazz pianist indeed. You can also tell from the precision of his touch (he knows exactly when to isolate a note and when to hit the legato) that he not only cared about the piano he played, he knew exactly what he was doing. Well, he started young.
Decca/ © Justin Pumfrey
Mitsuko Uchida There were two big stories at Wimbledon 2012. One was the first win in decades by a British men’s singles player, Andy Murray (given that this is, after all, the Brits’ big tournament, it had been regarded as a stain on their national tennis record). The other was the presence at his final of
a certain pianist in rather extravagant glasses. Both attracted their share of media attention, which just goes to show how beloved Mitsuko Uchida is in her adopted country. But, born in Japan and a British citizen, Uchida seems in little danger of being consigned to the cozy “national institution” ranks. Not when she’s still making recordings as zesty and vital as her recent(ish) Mozart Piano Concertos 23 and 24 CD with the Cleveland Orchestra – she got a Grammy for that one. Nor when she’s helping young artists with the passion she brings to the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. And when she was made artist-in-residence for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010 you can bet it was because they knew they’d be getting a restless creative mind as well as a top-drawer pianist. Yet she knows what she wants to do and stays focused. That Cleveland recording saw her conducting as well as playing, though conducting is something she rarely does, and only with orchestras she feels she knows well enough to make it work. The only surprise, perhaps, is that she has never been drawn to play more contemporary music. Given her expressive range and technical brilliance, as well these days as her obvious fame, today’s composers would be queuing up. Still, it hasn’t acted as any kind of brake, and she clearly STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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doesn’t feel the need. After all, Mozart and his ilk provided a fair bit of music to be getting on with. She has praised Steinway pianos for their “versatility.” And that’s a good insight into her own playing. No matter how many times she plays a piece, she finds in it endless variety, endless spontaneity. And so do we.
Photo courtesy of Mushmush
David Greilsammer It is, of course, never really enough to simply describe a musician as “a pianist” or even “a gifted pianist and conductor.” Every artist is individual and brings to their work their own unique spirit. But David Greilsammer, the young Israeli, er, talented pianist and conductor, goes above and beyond. He is a musical shape-shifter, playing with the very notion of what should comprise a classical concert or album. And so one of his recent piano-and-orchestra programs in Israel juxtaposed music by Mozart, Ligeti, Bernstein, and even (in a soprano encore)
Andrew Lloyd Webber. Another program he has played is a palindrome: It goes through a parade of composers, and then in the second half retraces its steps. And he has also been known to play all of Mozart’s piano sonatas in a single day. His CD for Sony, Baroque Conversations, crossed centuries from early to modern music (Handel and Feldman, anyone?) and was named one of the best recordings of 2012 by The New York Times. His earlier recordings, for the French Naïve label, are well worth investigating as well. Greilsammer’s latest adventure is the invention of a brand-new orchestra. Having been music director of the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, he has now created the Geneva Camerata. Its first season is in 2013, and welcomes major artists such as Steven Isserlis and Andreas Scholl. An interesting TV advert for the new endeavor involved Greilsammer conducting into a foggy expanse, a girl looking at dinosaur skeletons, and a sweet elderly couple. As with so much to do with Greilsammer, this won’t be exactly, well, normal. But it will be exciting and alive. n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Steinways in Unexpected Places, and Universal Truths Sometimes you find a Steinway in a place you donâ€™t expect. For me, these discoveries often show the lesser-known truths about what makes a Steinway such a superb instrument. Here are the stories of two pianos in my experience that illustrate this. 72
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Photo by Marco Borggreve
By Julius Drake
I was touring the American Midwest with one of my closest friends and collaborators, Ian Bostridge. He, of course, is a very celebrated tenor, so when we got to the hotel in Richmond, Virginia, and were told that there would be a room upgrade to no less than the Presidential Suite, I assumed this would be for Ian. We were staying in one of the finest hotels in town – bizarrely we were told that in the 1920s, they had had crocodiles in the lobby as one of their exotic attractions! Imagine my surprise when it turned out the upgrade was not offered to Ian, but to me, and the reason was that the Presidential Suite boasted a beautiful white Steinway. I was a pianist, so the hotel thought that I was the natural person to enjoy the Presidential Suite. Ian has never let me forget it! White Steinway pianos are rather glitzy, but you would be mistaken not to take them seriously, because of course under the veneer they are still “the real McCoy,” a Steinway piano. I often think that the marvelous thing about a Steinway is that it is so consistent. Whether it has been beautifully maintained or not, you can rely on being able to make your own sound on it. This is hard to explain, but it is one of the greatest qualities of the Steinway – if you listen to the rounds of a piano competition, for instance, 20 pianists might all play on the same Steinway, but they all sound different. That has to be one of the main reasons you find Steinways in every concert hall in the world. With other piano makes you might play a fabulous instrument somewhere, but then the next one of the same manufacture that you play is disappointingly not at all in a comparable league. It is the consistency of Steinways that is so remarkable. Another ingredient of Steinway’s success is its team of worldwide technicians. Outside the industry, people don’t realize how important the technician is to the way that a piano sounds and responds. Top soloists sometimes take their own technician around the world with them, or won’t play in a place unless their favorite technician prepares the piano. The technician can make the difference between the piano having a very soft or very hard sound, feeling restrained or sounding full and warm, projecting penetratingly across an orchestra or sounding intimate in a song recital. One of the most brilliant technicians, Stefan Knüpfer, is based in Vienna. Pianomania, a film made about his work, describes his obsessive attention to detail as he prepares a piano on which Pierre-Laurent Aimard will record Bach. Stefan has an amazing ear and will literally spend
With other piano makes you might play a fabulous instrument somewhere, but then the next one of the same manufacture that you play is disappointingly not at all in a comparable league. It is the consistency of Steinways that is so remarkable.
hours trying to get a single note to sound as he wants it. The best pianos I’ve ever played in my life are those he has worked on – his ear for the tiniest gradation in sound is quite astonishing. But then he might not be the technician of choice for another pianist, and there are a group of world-class technicians whose art is known and appreciated by a small band of pianists. The preparation of the piano makes an enormous difference at this level. There is one pianist who likes such a soft, dampened sound that you beg not to have the same piano after him because it plays like cotton wool! Another likes the action feather light to suit his lightning-fast finger work, so the keys return incredibly quickly. At the top level, it is horses for courses. Time for my second story. Largely thanks to a wonderful music teacher, my local primary state school in Brent decided that it should have a really good piano. The teacher heard that the local authority of Brent was passing on the Steinway D that used to be in the Town Hall. She arranged to have it from the council, but she first wanted to get it checked out by Steinway. They duly had a look and said that they could refurbish it for a relatively small amount. So she ran an appeal, managed to raise the money, and off it went to be restored. Then, shortly afterward, Steinway called to say that they had made a mistake – the piano was in fact riddled with damp and was beyond repair. They were very good about apologizing and they also offered a replacement, a piano that turned out to have been until very recently in the Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton (the hall had purchased a new Steinway, chosen by Paul Lewis, and had part-exchanged the older one). When I went to the school and played it a few weeks after it had been moved there, I was astonished – it is surely one of the best pianos in any school in England. There in this Brent primary school is this beautiful Steinway D, with a gorgeous, warm sound that fills the assembly hall as though it were a concert hall. I felt strongly that the children must get the chance to hear it in all its glory. I have therefore arranged with Live Music Now, the charity that gets outstanding young musicians into schools and hospitals and care homes, to give a performance on it every term for the children so they can experience a live concert. That’s the other thing that always strikes me about Steinways: They may get old, but if they are well cared for, their sound develops and matures and gets ever richer and more complex. Not just for years, but for decades, it just gets better and better. n STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Fingers of Fortune With a rich history in both wine and culture, Finger Lakes Wine Country offers vacationers a plethora of possibilities. By Tara N. Wilfong
Nestled among the rolling hills and picturesque lakes of upstate New York is a charming region quickly gaining notice for its fine wines, fast cars, and first-rate cultural offerings. Finger Lakes Wine Country, long considered a hidden gem by its residents, is rapidly becoming a destination for connoisseurs and collectors alike. Spanning from Rochester to Syracuse and Lake Ontario to the Pennsylvania border, Finger Lakes Wine Country, which derives its name from the 11 glacier-carved lakes that resemble long, nimble fingers spreading across the region, is just one of those places where time seems to stand still. “For years, the Finger Lakes region was relatively unknown, but when our wineries began cropping up, people really started to take notice,” said Morgen McLaughlin, then-president and CEO of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association in Corning, New York. “Even with the added attention, the region has maintained its rural character and inherent charm. Unlike other lakeside destinations, you won’t find huge mansions around the lake or big commercial centers in the heart of town. Instead, visitors are awed by the open, expansive areas of water and farmland.” Indeed, standing on the bank of any of the Finger Lakes, you are immediately struck by the natural beauty of the land, where farms and wineries collide in a harmonious symphony of color, smell, and taste. Quaint cottages dot the shoreline and paint a dramatic picture with miles of vineyards in the background. Here, the stress and chaotic nature of everyday life seems to melt away, and visitors are left with a soothing, tranquil feeling that permeates their souls.
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Although the area is vast – encompassing 9,000 square miles over 14 counties – it’s easily accessible. Within a day’s drive from such major metropolises as New York City, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and Toronto, Finger Lakes Wine Country is the perfect escape for a long weekend, or even an extended getaway. “This area is so unique that everyone needs to experience it at least once in their lifetime,” said Pat Charland, retired vice president of marketing for the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection in Canandaigua, New York. “Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, history buff, or nature lover, there is something for everybody here.” Undoubtedly, most residents and visitors would agree that the essence of Finger Lakes Wine Country is its passion for, and its proclivity to produce, some of the finest wines in the United States. At first glance, one might be reminded of Napa or the Loire Valley, but for this region’s viticulturists, Finger Lakes possesses its own unique flavor. With more than 100 wineries in the region, and more than 10,000 acres of vineyards, Finger Lakes has secured its place among the nation’s top wine-producing areas. “Even with all our history, we are still considered an emerging region in the wine industry,” McLaughlin explained. “Wine
Photo courtesy of Corning Museum of Glass Photo courtesy of WGI Photos courtesy of Finger Lakes Wine Country
Left: Taughannock Falls in the state park of the same name in the Finger Lakes (Cayuga) region of upstate New York. With an astounding 215-foot drop, the falls stand higher than Niagara Falls. Right: Foggy autumn morning in Watkins Glen State Park, New York.
connoisseurs are always looking for the best wines from the newest regions, and Finger Lakes certainly fits that criteria.” Tapping into its long history of grape growing – farmers began growing and harvesting grapes in the region nearly two centuries ago before Prohibition nearly stamped out all wine production other than those for sacramental consumption – vintners in the Finger Lakes region produce some of the best Riesling wines that even rival those from Germany. A major factor of their success is the area’s unique microclimate, which serves as a moderating effect, allowing the grapes to flourish. “Most of the major wine-producing areas of the world are influenced by a maritime climate, and for us, it’s the Finger Lakes, as well as the Great Lakes, that really make this region ideal for grape growing,” said Gene Pierce, co-owner of Glenora Wine Cellars in Dundee, New York, and Knapp Winery in Romulus, New York. “Because we are in a valley surrounded by these massive bodies of water, which continually generate heat, even during the coldest winter months, our vines are protected by the constant air movement over the warm water.” With such an ideal climate, Finger Lakes is one of the few regions in the world that is capable of producing rare and elusive ice wine. Typically a product of Canada, Germany, and other parts of Northern Europe, ice wine requires frozen grapes to be harvested after the first major freeze when the temperature is roughly 8 degrees Fahrenheit. Conditions must be precise to produce the sweet dessert wine. Even so, because of the unique process in which the frozen grapes are pressed, yielding only a minute amount of water and instead allowing the pure sugar and flavorful solids of the grape to emerge, the average vine of frozen grapes is only capable of producing a single bottle of ice wine. With such extreme conditions, and a tiny window of opportunity, Finger Lakes has found a rare niche that is, according to McLaughlin, “a bragging right for our region.” Another bragging right is the region’s three stellar wine trails, all of which skirt one of the Finger Lakes and afford wine aficionados the opportunity to sample the area’s different vintages and learn about the wine-making traditions of upstate
New York. Cayuga Wine Trail has the distinction of not only being the area’s first wine trail – it was developed in 1981 – but it’s also the oldest in the nation. As it winds around Cayuga Lake, encompassing 15 wineries and one cidery, the trail leads visitors on a scenic journey past rolling hills, breathtaking waterfalls, and lush glens. After such visual stimulation, visitors are ready to tantalize their taste buds and take in some of the trail’s highlights, including sampling Port, Brandy, and champagne at Swedish Hill Vineyard; visiting the oldest winery on the trail, Lucas Vineyards; and tasting the hard cider at Bellwether, the only winery on Cayuga Lake that produces this particular refreshment. Keuka Lake Wine Trail is home to seven wineries as well as some of the most beautiful vistas in the region. Highlights here include: Hunt Country Vineyards, a family-owned winery for six generations specializing in dry oak-aged Cabernet Franc and the elusive ice wine; and Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars, founded by Dr. Konstantin Frank, a pioneer grower of European wine grape varieties, and the first winery in the region to produce world-class wines. Seneca Lake Wine Trail, which boasts the largest number of wineries at 34, offers visitors truly unique wine- and spirittasting experiences. At Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, guests can antique at a restored barn while sipping an array of vintages, or sample “Mystic Mead” at the family-run Lakewood Vineyards. At Glenora Wine Cellars, one of the larger operations in the region – it produces approximately 55,000 cases of wine annually – guests can dine at Veraisons, the winery’s awardwinning restaurant, which pairs local cuisine with Glenora wines, or relax at the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars, a quaint 30-room escape with breathtaking views of the lake. During the summer and early fall, Glenora also hosts monthly jazz concerts, which in the past have featured such well-known artists as the Rippingtons, Eric Marienthal, and Dave Brubeck. In September, the winery’s annual “Leaves and Lobsters” bake is always a sold-out affair, with visitors flocking to Glenora for the fantastic fare and nature’s stunning display of fall foliage. STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
As visitors circumnavigate the lakes, sampling their favorite Merlots, Cabernets, Chardonnays, and Rieslings, among others, they have numerous opportunities to not only mingle and engage in sparkling conversation with other wine connoisseurs (and oftentimes winery owners), but also tour the cellars and learn about the wines particular to this region. “The wineries in our region are so different and diverse,” McLaughlin said. “Part of our charm is the range of our wineries, from ‘mom-and-pop shops,’ where the entire operation is confined to a small barn where the owners are the winemakers, to larger facilities with sophisticated production areas and blotter distribution. Here, people aren’t in the wine-making business as a hobby or a side job; they’re producing wine for a living because they are truly passionate about their craft.” To help celebrate this passion for all things viticultural, a number of the area’s top wineries converge on Watkins Glen International, the area’s premier race track, for the annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival. More than 90 wineries serve over 600 wines, and as connoisseurs compare vintages, the New York Wine and Culinary Center, an educational institution where visitors can learn about the state’s incredible wine and culinary pursuits, presents cooking demonstrations and classes as a delectable accompaniment to the featured wines. Whether this region is a destination for you to tempt your palette with some of New York’s finest vintages, or a retreat to soothe your soul while surrounded by nature’s glorious bounty, Finger Lakes Wine Country is truly a treat for all the senses. “As a former resident of Finger Lakes, my best advice to visitors is to take your time and enjoy the scenery and the people who call this region home,” said Susan Buzzetta, who resided in Naples, New York, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. “Part of the charm of this area is its ability to make you slow down and truly experience all that it has to offer. Like the slogan says, ‘See the beauty, feel the history and taste the wine.’”
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Photo courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass
Left: A vineyard on a hill overlooking beautiful Lake Keuka, Finger Lakes, New York. Right: At the Corning Museum of Glass, master glassmakers take hot, molten glass and turn it into beautiful bowls, vases, and other works during live performance Hot Glass Shows.
Wine and art, the perfect pair Although wine may be the area’s foremost draw, there is another side of the Finger Lakes region that honors the area’s passion for cultural greatness. Besides the fine boutique shops, brimming with local art and antiques, that line the streets of the quaint towns and villages of Finger Lakes Wine Country, upstate New York is home to two world-class art institutions: the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. A gift from Corning Glass Works, now Corning Inc., Corning Museum of Glass was founded in 1951 as an institution to preserve and expand the world’s understanding of all things glass. With more than 35 centuries of glass in its collection, the museum not only features historically significant works, but also serves to educate the public on the technology and science of glass and glassmaking. “We are certainly an educationally focused institution,” said Yvette Sterbenk, communications senior manager of Corning Museum of Glass. “Like a scientific museum, we’re interested in showing the innovations of glass – everything from how fiber optics were not only made, but discovered, to how the space shuttle’s windows withstand heat.” With a collection of more than 45,000 glass objects, ranging from a portrait of an Egyptian king to works by contemporary, living artists such as Dale Chihuly and Lino Tagliapietra, the Corning Museum of Glass houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of art and history in glass. The museum presents special exhibitions as well as permanent offerings, which include the Glass Innovation Center, where visitors can explore the science, magic, and even wizardry of the material, and the truly unique glassblowing and glass forming classes, where the public creates their own works of art. Complementing the museum’s magnificent collection and special exhibitions is its remarkable glass market, where visitors can purchase everything from handmade art glass and jewelry to wine glasses, dinnerware, and unique glass
Photo courtesy of Rockwell Museum of Western Art Photo courtesy of the Corning Museum of Glass
Left: The Rockwell Museum of Western Art has stunning collections of art, including pieces like “Prayer to the Spirit of the Buffalo,” 1910, oil on canvas, by Joseph Sharp, pictured here. Right: For a hands-on experience, Corning Museum of Glass visitors can make their own glass souvenirs, such as this pumpkin.
objects from around the world. “I think glass in all its forms really resonates with museum-goers,” Sterbenk said. “Glass is something everyone can easily relate to, and it’s an artistic medium that seems truly accessible.” Less than a mile from Corning Museum of Glass is the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, the self-described “best of the West in the East.” Commonly mistaken as a museum featuring the art of Norman Rockwell, it is in fact an institution that celebrates the Great American West through a variety of media, including sculpture, paintings, drawings, and pottery. Founded in 1976 by Bob and Hertha Rockwell, collectors who amassed an astounding collection of Western art and artifacts, the cornerstone of the museum’s holdings is the Rockwell’s private collection. “When Bob and Hertha Rockwell first envisioned the museum, they wanted the institution to grow and evolve through the interpretation of Western and Native American art and culture and educate many communities for a long time,” said Beth Manwaring, marketing and communications specialist for the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. “While that mission does not revolve around a single artist or collection, our museum does tell the story of the people, places, and ideas of the West through the eyes of accomplished artists, such as Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Albert Bierstadt, and Thomas Moran.” In addition to telling an age-old story, each of the museum’s galleries assumes a specific Western theme, such as buffalo, Native American, wilderness, and cowboy. On the second floor, the Remington and Russell Lodge, a re-creation of a Western lodge, is devoted to part of the museum’s permanent collection, while the “Visions of the West” gallery, a vibrant interpretation of the West’s vivid hues, houses the remainder of the collection. Two special exhibition galleries rotate new and traveling exhibitions. As the museum effectively transports you to the Old West through its visual displays, its Trading Post allows visitors to take home a piece of history with prints, reproductions, and
books not only relating to its collection, but Western and Native American art as a whole. Stocked with everything from unique gifts and jewelry to the latest Western wear, the store provides a perfect respite before riding off into the sunset.
Watkins Glen’s “racy” past For many Americans, racing is not only a hobby, but a way of life. In the late 1940s, when the United States saw an end to World War II and an introduction to one of the quintessential sports cars of the day, the MG, Americans wanted nothing more than to engage in healthy, fast-paced competition. So, with motor oil in their blood and a thirst for speed, a nation of racing enthusiasts was born. Tracing this American pastime to its roots, the spectacle of street racing was born in Watkins Glen, New York, a small berg tucked in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country. “Cameron Argetsinger, a law student at Cornell University who spent his summers in Watkins Glen, was a racing fanatic who loved speed, fast cars, and road racing,” said Mark Steigerwald, former director of the International Motor Racing Research Center in Watkins Glen. “Because of his passion, he decided to create a formal road race circuit, where drivers would speed through the streets of the village and the state park, in the first post-World War II race in the United States. On October 2, 1948, the Watkins Glen Grand Prix was officially born, and his dream was realized.” The annual race drew thousands of spectators and forever changed the history of Watkins Glen. Every fall, the small, quaint village erupted into the national epicenter for one of the most respected races in the country. Hosting the top names in American sports car racing, including Briggs Swift Cunningham, Jr., Watkins Glen was the venue to watch your favorites race. Cunningham, like Argetsinger, was a passionate competitor who sought speed and victory through a variety of interests. While a student at Yale University, Cunningham began a career STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
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Photo courtesy of the International Motor Racing Research Center at Watkins Glen
Racing pioneer Briggs Swift Cunningham, Jr., at the wheel of “BuMerc.” Cunningham won second place at the inaugural Watkins Glen Grand Prix.
as a successful yacht-racing skipper, one that would eventually lead him to international fame as owner and captain of the America’s Cup winning yacht, Columbia. Although sailing would remain a lifelong passion, Cunningham’s primary focus was on building and racing cars. At the inaugural Watkins Glen Grand Prix, Cunningham entered a car of his own design – a Mercedes body on a Buick Century chassis, affectionately dubbed “BuMerc.” Taking second place, Cunningham returned the next year with a new car, a Ferrari 166 Corsa, the first Ferrari racing car in the United States. Even with such a spectacular vehicle, Cunningham was passed in the final lap by his friend Miles Collier, giving him the second-place finish once again. “Briggs was really a pioneer in the sport of racing, especially here at Watkins Glen,” Steigerwald explained. “Although most of the racers were amateurs, there were those few standouts, like Briggs, who were more well-heeled to afford the best machines, and in turn, give the crowd the most fantastic finishes.” Even after the Watkins Glen Grand Prix was moved to a permanent track in 1956 with the construction of Watkins Glen International, Cunningham continued to support and drive in the race that put street racing on the national map. Today, Watkins Glen International hosts a new breed of race cars and race enthusiasts during its seasonal events. “There are a number of different races at the Glen,” said Eiron M. Smith, who served as director of communications for Watkins Glen International. Every major racing series has competed at Watkins Glen at one time or another – from Nascar to Formula One. During the course of a single season, the track typically hosts close to 15 different series. Ever mindful of its racing past, however, the village of Watkins Glen and Watkins Glen International host the U.S. Vintage
Grand Prix every year, allowing racing fans to witness a reenactment of that legendary first race through the streets of the village. As hundreds of vintage cars return to this hallowed ground where street racing was born, fans and enthusiasts watch as racers re-trace the miles on the original street course. “As you watch these vintage cars ‘race’ through the streets of the town, you’re really struck by how one man’s dream really shaped this area and the world of racing,” Steigerwald said. “We remember that racing isn’t just a sport, it’s an endeavor.” n For More Information: • Corning Museum of Glass, 1 Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830. (800) 732-6845. www.cmog.org. • Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, 25 Gorham St., Canandaigua, NY 14424. (877) 386-4669. www.visitfingerlakes.com. • Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, 1 West Market St., Suite 203, Corning, NY 14830. (800) 813-2958. www.fingerlakeswinecountry.com. • Glenora Wine Cellars, 5435 State Rte. 14, Dundee, NY 14837. (800) 243-5513. www.glenora.com. • The International Motor Racing Research Center, 610 South Decatur St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891. (607) 535-9044. www.racingarchives.org. • Rockwell Museum of Western Art, 111 Cedar St., Corning, NY 14830. (607) 937-5386. www.rockwellmuseum.org. • Watkins Glen International, 2790 County Rte. 16, Watkins Glen, NY 14891. (866) 461-RACE. www.theglen.com. STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Helvetian Havens Switzerland’s Matterhorn-solid stability and prosperous economy provide a safe haven for investors. By Mark Gardener
The most basic rule of economics is, of course, supply and demand. To put it simply, when supply exceeds demand, asset or commodity prices drop. Conversely, when demand exceeds supply, they rise. There are few exceptions, which is why purchasing commercial or residential property in Switzerland appears to be a prudent investment. Residential property prices in Switzerland have risen by 30 percent since the beginning of 2007, at the same time the United States saw its housing market collapse. And while the European Union (EU) continues to navigate through turbulent economic times, independent Switzerland has averaged 3 percent unemployment, with the economy today growing at a slow but steady 1 percent. For many investors, and for that matter many EU citizens, Switzerland looks like a safe haven indeed: Today, nearly one-quarter of the Swiss population is foreign born. According to a recent study by International Residency, an advisory group furnishing expert advice on investment immigration, citizenship, international residence and real estate areas in various countries (www.internationalresidency.com),
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the best performing property market in Switzerland has been the Lake Geneva region, encompassing the cantons of Geneva, Vaud, and to a lesser extent, Valais. Montreux, on the Swiss Riviera in Vaud, is well known to Steinway owners because of the Montreux Jazz Festival, an annual tradition for nearly five decades. Those who have attended the festival know the Swiss or Vaud Riviera as one of the most beautiful regions on Earth. Along with the flowerbordered promenade linking Montreux with Vevey along the still, blue waters of Lake Geneva, the region is home to neatly tended, Old World vineyards sloping down toward the lake; the village of Caux with its former Grand Hotel, said to have been the inspiration for the castle in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; Manoir les Bains in the village of Vevey, home to the estate of Charlie Chaplin, who spent his last years there; and the Chateau de Chillon, the inspiration for Lord Byron’s poem “The Prisoner of Chillon.” Over the past 15 years, housing values in this area have risen more than 107 percent, or roughly 7 percent per year. Demand here is always higher than supply. Switzerland’s Lex Koller legislation makes
Times change. Markets rise and fall. Sovereign states fail to meet debt obligations. Others teeter on the brink. But in a climate where such volatility has become the norm, the resilience and continued financial appreciation of handmade Steinway pianos stands out. With investors’ choices continuing to narrow, senior editor Mark Gardener was curious to discover whether there were any other investment options to be found offering comparable returns coupled with much craved security. Following a trip to Switzerland earlier this year, where he attended the Montreux Jazz Festival, he took an extended break touring Lake Geneva and the surrounding regions.
Attendees of the Montreux Jazz Festival will recognize the Chateau de Chillon on Lake Geneva, the inspiration for Lord Byron’s poem “The Prisoner of Chillon.”
it difficult for foreigners to purchase residential property in Switzerland, providing for no more than 1,440 permits to be allocated to foreign investors who wish to buy homes (although it does not apply to commercial properties). The majority of those permits are allocated to cantons in southwest Switzerland, such as Vaud, Valais, and the Bernese Oberland. In light of this, interest has waned only slightly in the wake of calls from native Swiss this year to abolish the tax breaks given to wealthy foreigners in the form of a forfait, or lump-sum tax. “The slump in Geneva’s luxury market has seen the average house price in Switzerland’s second biggest city fall 1 percent to 2.6 million francs (£1.8 million) in the first half of 2013 from a record high in 2011, according to consultants Wuest & Partner,” wrote Justin Harper in the Daily Telegraph. “In Cologny, one of Geneva’s wealthy lakeside suburbs, there are about 10 to 15 homes on the market going for more than 10 million francs (£7 million) compared with just one or two back in 2011, according to Knight Frank,” Harper wrote. But this cooling of the market has actually created a better climate for investors. Roland Huber, owner of maxmore AG, Zug, (www.maxmore.ch/en), independent property agent, also for luxury estates, sees demand for Swiss properties as steady, if not increasing. “There’s a permanent demand, I would say. At the moment, prices are stable. They surely don’t go up as they used to go up that much in the last five, 10 years. And top, exclusive estates are a special market anyway. The prices are still high, but it’s getting easier to get lower-priced property. The situation has changed the last six, seven months here in Switzerland. It’s not a buyers’ market yet, but it’s getting easier for the buyer.” While some investors are taking a wait-and-see approach as Switzerland and the United States haggle over an agreement to reveal tax evaders hiding funds in Swiss banks and the aforementioned referendum to end the forfait is scheduled for a vote, others see opportunity. The Swiss parliament has pushed back aggressively against the U.S. deal, and there are also solid arguments against eliminating the forfait. There are relatively few foreigners who actually used the forfait – a total of STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
Heart of Switzerland Zug property market on an upward trend
Zug offers you everything you wish for the good life: modern infrastructure, appealing leisure and sports programmes, excellent schools, good shopping facilities, cultural diversity, and service oriented authorities that focus on people and their needs – and all this ensconced in a beautiful Prealpine landscape. The central location of Zug provides excellent links to the most important national and international traffic routes.
The tax haven is also a residential paradise Thanks to its low tax burden, the Canton of Zug is the ideal location for international companies. Yet also families seeking a high quality of life and security find the optimal conditions in Zug. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that people from over 120 nations have found a new home here. The Zug property market enjoys unabated a considerable surplus demand. As a result, it is often difficult, especially for those abroad, to find property here when some appealing locations are not even advertised.
Zuger Altstadt 82
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Independent, innovative, and dynamic
The highest building in the Canton of Zug completed in 2014
Under these circumstances, investors and prospective buyers cannot fail to benefit when they are supported by a firmly established Zug company integrated in an effective network. Having evolved from a corporate group with over a hundred years of Zug tradition, Peikert Immobilien AG has been an independent operator for over seventeen years and can provide a wide range of services on the property market in the Zug region and neighbouring cantons. These services include field marketing, market analyses, project development, sales, mediation, marketing, administration, property valuations, syndicate and corporate management, and much more. Peikert Immobilien AG is not only an authority on the property market, it is also a professional in legal and financial transactions.
Probably the most exclusive Peikert project is the Park-Tower, currently in the construction phase and already enjoying the reputation of a new famous landmark. At 81 metres, it will be the highest building in the Canton of Zug offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the lake, the city, and the mountains. The Park-Tower enjoys great popularity with companies that are satisfied only with the best location as well as private persons seeking exclusiveness and luxury. The buyers’ decisions on interior work and design were all made true to the concept “Living Designed by You”. The result is a blend of international flair and elegance. Peikert Immobilien caters equally to both private and institutional clients when they are seeking a high level of service quality and individual property solutions. Also the growing international clientele with their special requirements find professional accompaniment on their road to Zug. More about Zug and Peikert Immobilien AG at www.zug.ch and www.peikertimmobilien.ch
Solid references An excerpt from the previous decades presents above all large scale, demanding, and architecturally interesting building projects developed and realised by Peikert: Brunnmatt, Cham/Zug 22,000 m2 of commercial/ office space, 62 apartments, 18 single family terrace houses Weinbergstrasse / Weinberghöhe, Inwil-Baar 52 terrace houses, 24 apartments Zuger-Stadttor, Zug 140 apartments, 1000 m2 of office space Grüt-Park, Adliswil/Zurich 210 rented and owner occupied apartments Zug-Schleife, Zug 78 owner occupied apartments
The Park Tower
Deepak Here Roy Lindman Licensing
5,445 in all of Switzerland, according to Bloomberg Businessweek – and those few contributed almost 1 percent of all the taxes collected in the country, business lobbying group Economiesuisse contends. The disadvantage of ending the tax break could be illustrated by the canton of Zürich, which abolished its forfait in 2009. Nearly half of those who formerly benefited from the forfait left the canton, and despite higher taxes on the remaining high-net-worth individuals, the canton ended up losing total tax revenues. Those revenues went to other cantons with a less strict tax policy, one of them the neighbouring canton of Zug, which has been much more accommodating to corporations and wealthy individuals interested in relocating. If Switzerland as a whole is considered a tax haven, than the canton of Zug is the tax haven within a tax haven. Switzerland’s smallest full canton was traditionally known as an idyllic but poor farming region, nestled among rolling hills and three lakes in the foothills of the Alps. Beginning in the 1960s, however, the canton’s enlightened tax policy began to bear fruit, with more businesses and well-to-do individuals moving to the area. The canton today embodies the best of both worlds. Some 30,000 companies are incorporated or have operations of some kind in Zug, with more than 10,000 having arrived since the year 2000. Though most call the canton headquarters for tax purposes only, some of the corporations with brick and mortar headquarters or operations there include Adidas AG, Mars, Inc., Foster Wheeler Ltd., Thomson Reuters Corp., and Siemens AG.
Charlie Chaplin (a statue of whom is pictured at left) was just one of the wealthy and accomplished individuals who have been drawn to the beauty and stability of Switzerland over the years. Chaplin lived out his last years on Lake Geneva, in Vevey. Right: Terraced vineyards in the Lavaux, canton of Vaud, slope gently down toward Lake Geneva.
While the tax policies of the canton have much to do with the influx of corporations and people, there is much more to Zug’s appeal, according to Huber. “Officially, everyone says it’s the taxes,” he said. “But it’s not only the taxes. For some people, it’s not even the taxes. It’s also the security, the social security, a secure economic situation and infrastructure, employment, and so on. So, it’s a lot of secondary reasons as well. Taxes are an issue, of course, but not only.” While Zug’s central location means Zürich and Lucerne are only 30 minutes away, Zug is itself growing more metropolitan, and boasts excellent schools and services. More than 90 nationalities are represented in the town of Zug’s 24,000 inhabitants, which constitute approximately one-quarter of the canton of Zug’s population of 100,000. This cosmopolitan atmosphere also reflects waves of wealthy immigrants. Knight Frank’s “Wealth Report,” for example, predicts an increase of 27 percent in the high-net-worth-individual population of Switzerland by 2022. This has meant considerable surplus demand for properties and a building boom in the canton. One of the most exclusive answers to this demand is the Park-Tower in the town of Zug, a project of Peikert Immobilien AG, which will become, at 81 meters in height, the tallest building in the canton, with incomparable views over the rooftops of the town. Currently in the construction phase, the building will have an underground parking garage and 25 floors that STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
STEINWAY & SONS | WINTER 2013/14
of most of the military left vacated property and a deep hole in the local economy. The redevelopment of former military property into a year-round resort destination and residences was seen as favorable enough to suspend the traditional rules of foreign investment. Andermatt was always appealing to expert skiers, even when there was a massive military presence and a livefire range. With the opening of Chedi Andermatt and future development ongoing, Andermatt is sure to become an alternative to Gstaad and St. Moritz during ski season. And there you have it: If a handmade Steinway piano doesn’t quite match your investment strategy for now, you could do far worse than to look to Switzerland to find a safe, secure (and rather pleasant) place to watch your investment appreciate. n
Zug Tourist Board
Above left: Once an idyllic but poor farming region, Zug has become more metropolitan, though not at the expense of its original charm and beauty. Above right: Looking down on Zug’s Old Town, with the church of St. Oswald, the Zytturm clock tower, and the four defense towers that used to mark the corners of the city’s ancient walls. Right: Andermatt. This ski destination in the Swiss Alps will enjoy revitalization thanks to development planned to include a mix of fine hotels, apartments, and chalets, as well as leisure and business facilities.
can be configured much as the buyer desires, either as work or residential spaces. For those who are more interested in mountain vistas and pristine ski slopes, holiday properties surrounding ski resorts are generally easier to purchase than those in other Swiss locations. One unique opportunity is the Andermatt Swiss Alps project, in the canton of Uri, which is developing what may be the last ski resort of any significant size in Switzerland. The Andermatt Swiss Alps project is planned to include no fewer than six 4- and 5-star hotels, nearly 500 apartments in 42 developments, two dozen chalets, various wellness, leisure, and conference facilities, and an 18-hole golf course. Backed by Egyptianborn property developer Samih Sawiris, who is investing 1.8 billion Swiss francs, the project will revitalize what was once a prime ski resort. A ski destination – Andermatt-Sedrun – will integrate the ski areas of Andermatt and Sedrun, and because of its elevation, snowfall is predicted to be reliable even in a future affected by climate change, Travel Inside editor Urs Hirt said in an interview with SwissInfo.ch. The first of the 5-star hotels, the Chedi Andermatt, is due to open in December. Along with 50 hotel rooms, it is home to 119 residences. For those seeking properties in Switzerland, the Andermatt Swiss Alps project is unusual in that it is free from the restrictions against foreign ownership seen in other cantons. Andermatt was long a traditional barracks town for the Swiss armed forces, but the post-Cold War departure
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