People and Pianos: A Pictorial History of Steinway and Sons by Theodore E. Steinway (Amadeus Press) This is the story of how the Steinway piano came to be the instrument of choice for the world's greatest pianists. In 1953, Theodore Steinway wrote this narrative in longhand on yellow legal pads as a tribute to his father and to commemorate the first 100 years of Steinway and Sons. The book was a memento for employees and was never released to the public. This revised edition brings the history of this remarkable company to the present day through recollections of Henry E. Steinway, the last family member to remain involved with the company, and Peter Goodrich, vice president of concert and artist relations, who has been with the company for 30 years. In 1850, Henry Engelhard Steinway left Germany for New York City and established what was to become the standard of excellence in the piano world. Using photographs and anecdotes, this book chronicles the business from its beginnings through the Depression, when many piano manufacturers went out of business, through World War II, when the company was forbidden to make pianos, and through the advent of modern technology. Through it all the Steinway piano has prevailed as a symbol of quality. The Steinway artist roster is a living tribute to the company and its pianos. More than 1300 performers have publicly endorsed the Steinway because they believe in the quality of the instrument and will only play and perform on a Steinway.
In 1953, Theodore E. Steinway wrote the original edition of this book in longhand on yellow legal pads, chronicling the history of Steinway & Sons till that time. Filled with historic photographs, his book was given to employees as a memento to commemorate the company's 100-year anniversary. It was never released to the public until now, with this new edition, which reproduces Theodore E. Steinway's original book as it was written and designed in 1953. Additional recollections contributed by Henry Z. Steinway, the last family member to remain involved with the company, and an update by Bruce Stevens, the company's current president, continue the remarkable story of Steinway & Sons to the present day.
The story begins with master piano builder Henry Engelhard Steinway, who left Germany for New York City in 1850, and in 1853 started Steinway & Sons in a rented loft at 85 Varick Street. Photographs, engaging narrative, and charming anecdotes take the reader from the early days of Steinway & Sons in the mid-nineteenth century, through World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II, to the Steinway & Sons of today, tracing the company's evolution from a family business to a modern corporation, all in the context of the dramatic cultural, political, and economic changes of the past 150 years.
For piano lovers, this volume includes descriptions, illustrations, and photo-graphs of the technical innovations that made the Steinway piano great and tracks its advances against the backdrop of such unfolding technologies as the player piano, the phonograph, radio, television, and electronic amplification. Photographs of beautiful, custom-made, and historic pianos, including instruments residing in the East Room of the White House and the Smithsonian Institution, illustrate the same exquisite attention to detail "outside the box."
Here you will find rare photos of legendary Steinway Artists and personal reminiscences by Henry Z. Steinway on maestros such as Paderewski, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Josef Hofmann, Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, Dame Myra Hess, and Arthur Rubinstein. All of them benefited from the Steinway genius and added further luster to the Steinway name.
Why has the Steinway piano been the instrument of choice for the world's greatest pianists for over 150 years? Now available to the public for the first time in this special edition, People and Pianos: A Pictorial History of Steinway & Sons, originally written by Theodore Steinway to celebrate the company's 100'1' anniversary, is an intimate and personal photo essay book on the history of these internationally renowned pianos and their company that makes them, from their humble beginnings in Germany and in Henry E. Steinway's Manhattan loft on Varick Street to the present day.
Enhancing this special edition are the recollections of Henry Z. Steinway, the last family member to remain involved with the company, and an essay by Bruce Stevens, Steinway president, which specifically highlights the company's developments over the last 50 years.
The book also reveals the many technical innovations that made the Steinway piano great, and recounts its advances against the backdrop of such unfolding technologies as the player piano, the phonograph, radio, television, and electronic amplification. It traces the company's evolution from a family-oriented business to a modern corporation utilizing the business practices of the twenty-first-century.
Finally, the book relates Steinway's unique working relationship with artists. For example, the Steinways introduced Anton Rubinstein and Ignace Jan Paderewski to the United States, serving as concert managers for the latter's first concert at New York City's Carnegie Hall in 1891. Rare photos of legendary Steinway Artists and personal reminiscences by Henry Z. Steinway on maestros such as Paderewski, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Josef Hofmann, Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, Dame Myra Hess, and Arthur Rubinstein, are also included.
The Steinway Collection: Paintings of Great Composers by James Gibbons Huneker (Amadeus Press) Music lovers will delight in the beautiful color paintings and eloquent prose portraits in The Steinway Collection: Paintings of Great Composers. Chopin, Wagner, Liszt, Beethoven, Berlioz, Mozart, Verdi, Mendelssohn, Handel, and Schubert are among the composers celebrated in this historic book, which was originally printed in 1919 as an in-house publication of Steinway and Sons but has never before been released to the public. The paintings by esteemed American artists and accompanying essays by the brilliant critic James Gibbons Huneker are intended, in Mr. Huneker's words, to "evoke musical visions; for music is visionary, notwithstanding its primal appeal to the ear." An introduction by acclaimed broadcaster and writer David Dubal, Juilliard professor of piano literature, gives the book historical perspective.
Vladimir de Pachmann: A Piano
Virtuoso's Life and Art by Mark Mitchell (Indiana University Press) Mark
Mitchell's richly detailed biography--the first to be published--reconciles the
eccentric personality of Vladimir de Pachmann with his gifted playing by
offering for the first time a thorough account of the pianist's life, as well as
a complete reappraisal of his musicianship.
Of all the pianists of the generation born between 1840 and 1860, Vladimir de
Pachmann has experienced the most precipitous decline in posthumous reputation;
indeed, when he is remembered today, it is more often than not for the comic and
sometimes bizarre on-stage behavior that earned him the epithet "Chopinzee." Yet
during his years before the public (1882-1929), Pachmann was regarded as one of
the four or five greatest pianists in the world, as well as the greatest
exponent of Chopin. Mark Mitchell, author of the acclaimed Virtuosi, here
introduces us to this enigmatic artist.
As Mitchell’s biography takes pains to point out, Pachmann’s highly evolved
eccentricity was part showmanship and a hold over from nineteenth century’s more
liberal keyboard styles of interpretation in playing music. Mitchell‘s
Biographical effort should be commended for its willingness to revive the life
shenanigans of this important pianist.
At the end of 1899, a young journalist named Willa Lather
attended a recital, in Pittsburgh, by the pianist Vladimir de Pachmann. With her
was an unnamed Pachmann pupil who, before the concert began, gave the future
novelist some idea of what to expect:
"But then," remarked the Pachmann pupil, "he is vain of everything; he is the vainest man I ever knew, and when I was with him I was almost as vain of him as he was of himself. One falls under the enchantment of the man, and Pachmannism becomes a mystic cult, an intellectual religion, a new sort of theosophy. His pupils usually copy his walk, his gestures. I think I used even to wish I had his nose and his little slits of Tartar eyes. But listen!"
Cather listened. Pachmann began, she wrote in a review published in the Courier
(30 December), with Weber's sonata in A-flat "wishing, I suppose, to give a
certificate of his general musicianship and his complete dominion over his
instrument before he began to `specialize."' He then moved on to Chopin. "He
does not deign to play a number as you have heard it before," Cather observed.
"He has a technique full of tricks and wonderful feats of skill, full of
tantalizing pauses and willful subordinations and smothered notes cut short so
suddenly that he seems to have drawn them back into his fingers again." By the
time Pachmann had arrived at the third prelude, Cather's companion, the former
pupil, had "utterly collapsed" and was murmuring, "The tone-the singing tone!"
No one else had ever been able to produce a tone like that, he assured her. Then
he told "a funny story of this quaint Russian egotist."
When he was in Pittsburgh on his last American tour, he was playing the Chopin
Valse Brilliante, opus 34, to a crowd of musicians in a wholesale music store
here. He played even better than usual, and when he had finished, he looked up
and said with a sigh and a gesture of ineffable regret, "Ah, who will play like
that when Pachmann is no more!" There were actually tears in his eyes, for he
was overcome with the sense of the great loss which the world must someday
If this anecdote tells us anything, it is that Vladimir de Pachmann moved
himself as much as his admirers. Excessive self-praise had always been an
important facet of his comedy, just as comedy, even vaudeville, had always been
an important facet of his concerts. At a Pachmann recital, in addition to a
swoon-inducing performance of the third prelude of Chopin, you might find
yourself witnessing the sort of scene that W N. P. Barbellion described in The
journal of a Disappointed Man:
As usual [Pachmann] kept us waiting for 10 minutes. Then a short, fat,
middle-aged man strolled casually on to the platform and everyone clapped
violently-so it was Pachmann.... He beamed on us and then shrugged his shoulders
and went on shrugging them until his eye caught the music stool, which seemed to
fill him with amazement. He stalked it carefully, held out one hand to it
caressingly, and finding all was well, went two steps backwards, clasping his
hands before him and always gazing at the little stool in mute admiration, his
eyes sparkling with pleasure, like Mr. Pickwick's on the discovery of the
archaeological treasure.' He approached once more, bent down and ever so gently
moved it about 7/8ths of an inch nearer the piano. He then gave it a final pat
with his right hand and sat down.' (234-35)
At a Pachmann recital, you might see the pianist pantomime. If it was summer, he
would pretend to mop his brow; if it was winter, he would shake his fingers to
suggest that they were too cold to allow him to play. "Bravo, de Pachmann," or
"C'est joli," he would say if his playing pleased him; "Cochonnerie,
cochonnerie!" if he felt that he had "played like a pig." (On those occasions
when he hit a false note, he would say that it was the piano's fault.) He often
apostrophized his audience, greeting members whose faces he recognized or
reading his mail aloud. "When some ladies at one of his concerts in London
ostentatiously followed his performance with the score," one journalist wrote,
"he stopped playing and shouted into the hall with frigid politeness: `Will the
ladies in the fourth row stop turning the pages of their music books? They
brought the music to see if I will make any mistakes, but I make no mistakes, I
am Pachmann.' He then added: `In any case, the ladies have the wrong edition, I
play from a different one."' (As in the Inferno, they read no more that day.)
Once in Milwaukee, when a man in the audience whispered to his wife, "Isn't it
Pachmann stopped playing and admonished, "If you can't be quiet, get out!" On
another occasion, the presence of a woman in the front row cooling herself with
an enormous fan drove him to distraction. "Madame, I am playing in 3/4," he is
to have said, "and you are fanning in 6/8!"
The object of his running commentary was not always to amuse, however. He also
tried to educate his audience about the music he was playing by describing the
technical construction of a piece, or the significance of a figuration, even as
he performed it. Because he customarily delivered his remarks in a patois of
European languages, this commentary often went over the heads to which it was
directed. Nor did he disdain poetic imagery if he thought this might help to
evoke a composition for his listeners. As he concluded Schumann's Prophet Bird,
a favorite encore, he would lift his hand into the air and say, "Ze bird has
flied away." Or he would say as he played Weber's Perpetuum mobile: "Imagine a
necklace of diamonds, glistening like water in the sunlight. I cut the golden
string. See the diamonds fallshowers of them; they dazzle the eyes." According
to a column called "Mephisto's Musings" (MusicalAmerica, 20 April 1912), "He
lectured to them while he played, ordered one latecomer to `sit down' in so
peremptory a fashion that the unfortunate woman almost sank through the floor in
her embarrassment, told about the way in which Weber wore his hair, and
explained just why certain passages in Chopin were hard to perform." By
calling attention to "beautiful passages," a Boston critic noted in 1923,
Pachmann "creates an atmosphere of intimacy which very few artists ever achieve
in a large concert room." The exigencies of being a "concert pianist" obliged
him to play in "large concert rooms," of course, but his ideal was the
Encores were central to his programs. One anecdote shows his masterful ability
to "work" his public. After playing a Chopin recital at the Berlin Singakademie
(destroyed during the Second World War), he acquitted himself of about fifteen
encores. At the back of the stage were about this number of rows of steps where
a chorus could be deployed. Upon concluding each encore, Pachmann would walk up
to the corresponding step and wave an immaculate handkerchief at the audience,
who caught on to the game and did their part to see him attain the top step.3 On
other occasions, having played a complement of encores, Pachmann would wave a
handkerchief at the audience to indicate that he was taking his leave of it.
"If any one else did this," J. Cuthbert Hadden wrote in Modern Musicians, "it
would be ridiculous. Done by Pachmann, it was most graceful."
There was sometimes a touch of the seance to his concerts. Playing Chopin, he
might gaze into the ether, then whisper, "Did you see? Did you see? Chopin was
here." The intensity of his pianissimo, which came to be called a
"Pachmannissimo," often drove his audiences into a state of anxi-
ety that would release itself, at the recital's conclusion, as urgent applause.
Then his fans would line up backstage for his autograph. He called them his
"friends," and as with his real friends, he often tested them. Indiscriminate
applause enraged him. If they clapped for what he considered a cochonnerie or
before he came to the end of a piece, he would chastise them for being ignorant.
By the same token, if someone he was close to criticized him even slightly, he
would feel that he had been betrayed and go on the defensive. "Of all artists,"
the recording engineer Fred Gaisberg wrote in The Music Goes Round, "Pachmann
had the greatest need of an audience to inspire him.”
What his listeners took from him depended on what they wanted from him. In
Chicago, a female admirer might present him with the gloves she had split by
applauding too loudly; in London, a would-be aesthete, at concert's end, might
wax about the morbidity of his Chopin; in New York, a dry wit might see in his
onstage behavior the starting point for a humorous essay. For Pachmann, the line
between public and private was far less distinct than it is for most people.
Thus he could behave onstage as if he were in his bedroom, and just as easily in
his bedroom as if he were onstage. As a result he made good copy for journalists
eager to record his latest antic, yet he left almost nothing in the way of a
record of a personal life: no diaries, no journals, no date books, a handful of
letters; less than a paucity of the very documents upon which biographers
customarily rely. What we have is a superabundance of reviews, profiles,
recollections, responses, and anecdotes, nearly all of them with variants, from
which to tease out the shape and substance of his life. Pachmann himself left a
key when he wrote, "When people laugh, they become more human."4 That he
survives for us at all is thanks entirely to his recordings and to the hundreds
of men and women who wrote down their impressions of him, and if I often quote
from their observations extensively, it is because paraphrase robs such
documents of their most crucial quality-voice.
Of all the pianists of the generation born between 1840 and 1860, Pachmann has
experienced the most precipitous decline in posthumous reputation. Yet during
his years before the public (1882-1929), he was often regarded as one of the
four or five greatest pianists in the world, and-thanks in part to his studies
with Vera Kologrivoff Rubio, Chopin's last assistant-as the greatest exponent of
the music of Chopin. Indeed, in the scene in Max Beerbohm's novel Zuleika Dobson
where the shades of Chopin and George Sand listen in on a performance of
Chopin's Funeral March, Chopin describes the playing as "Plus fin que Pachmann!"
(99) then waves his arms wildly and dances a la Pachmann. Pachmann also
attracted the notice of Cather, Raymond Chandler (who wrote in a letter to
Hardwick Moseley that he thought the Chopin Barcarolle"[was] never played
really well since de Pachmann"), Israfel, Vladimir Nabokov,5 the poet and
essayist Arthur Symons, and Alice B. Toklas. The obituary of the pianist from
the Times (9 January 1933) read, in part:
While Pachmann's reputation was one of extravagance, the artist had a passion
for economy. There must be nothing wasted in piano-playing. Latterly the
eccentrician might often obliterate the artist, perhaps through three-quarters
or more of a recital programme. The careful listener and watcher would, however,
be rewarded by a few moments, perhaps a single etude or prelude of Chopin, which
could only be described by the word perfect. Ten minutes of such playing of
Chopin, in which everything needful to be said was said through a touch on the
keys of pearl-like smoothness, a control which was without a hint of strain, a
naturalness in expression which made all the intellectualists seem mere
fumblers-this was the reward of the patient listener and the revelation of the
supreme artist in Pachmann.
If Pachmann is remembered today, it is typically as what critic James Gibbons
Huneker called "Chopinzee"-the pianist being, like Chopin himself (Felix
Mendelssohn called him "Chopinetto"), a small man, as well as famous for his
"monkeyshines." He was labeled a clown for all this, but in fact the clown may
be a sincere artist: one remembers Buster Keaton, Grock,6 Victor Borge,7 and
Chico Marx., (Marx's one-finger piano playing in A Night at the Opera suggests
that he would have had no difficulty playing the pizzicato from Delibes's
Sylvie.) Comic genius and musicianship are not, a priori, at odds. Chopin
himself was, by all accounts, a superb mimic and caricaturist, as Liszt and
others found out, sometimes to their discomfort. After improvising for his
friends for an hour or two, Henry Finck writes in an essay on the composer,
Chopin "would suddenly rouse them from their reveries by a glissando-sliding his
fingers from one end of the keyboard to the other.”
Nor was Pachmann the only pianist of his day to have behaved unusually in
concert. There was Liszt's Hungarian pupil Joszef Weisz, of whom Alma Mahler
wrote in a passage quoted by Zoltan Roman in Gustav Mahler'sAmerican Years:
"[He] had a square, bald skull, with the merest tuft in the middle, and brown
eyes wedged in slits, which could only mean either insanity or genius. He was
the greatest pianist Mahler, according to his own account, had ever heard"
(336). Alfredo Casella wrote in Music in My Time, "Because of his continual
jests, his assurance, and his mania for talking to the public, [Francis Plante]
somewhat resembled Vladimir de Pachmann, and like him, excelled in the
miniature" (64). What distinguished Pachmann was that, in the view of a Boston
critic, "Usually the quality of [his]
playing rises in proportion to his display of his `eccentricities"' (Boston
Transcript, 11 December 1911).
Pachmann's remarkable force of personality, his magnetism and charm, do not by
themselves explain the extraordinary esteem in which other musicians held him,
however. Through his playing he seduced his "intellectual" colleagues-Wilhelm
Backhaus and Casella as well as Ferruccio Busoni and Leopold Godowsky-no less
than those who, one might say, thought with their hearts and felt with their
minds-as did Pachmann himself. That is to say, Pachmann did not play as if the
musical argument precluded the wooing of the instrument. A critic for the
Chicago Morning News (26 November 1890) praised him for beginning Chopin's
Berceuse "in the usual tone and gradually hushing it to sleep-a decidedly
captivating maneuver in the presentation of the time-honored lullaby." Edward
Steuermann (The Not Quite Innocent Bystander) wrote:
I confess that years ago hearing the old Chopin interpreter de Pachmann made a strong impression on me; the manner in which he never departed from the basic mood, passing subtly over phrases which today have become lachrymose and hypersensitive, and permitting them to remain no more than premonitions, all this appeared to me to be compositionally more appropriate to this work. The lesson: with all clarity of detail the basic concept must not be destroyed. Despite the intoxication of color which our modern nerves long for, one must remember that it is for the most part one voice, in this art, which speaks to us, no, sings to us; the voice must not stray so far that from a lyric poem comes forth a drama. (122-23)
Arthur Symons had hymned this same quality in Pachmann's playing half a century
earlier in the Saturday Review (11 July 1908): "The pianoforte was once a ship
with sails, beautiful in the wind; it is now a steamer, with loud propellers and
blinding smoke. And it is not only the Busonis and the Mark Hambourgs who
sacrifice beauty to noise, but every great executant, with the single exception
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