History of Steinway Pianos

Steinway New and Pre-Owned Pianos at Michelles Piano in Portland ORThe history of Steinway & Sons Pianos is full of interesting and industry changing piano innovations, over coming obstacles with economy and competitors, and redefining the piano industry with pianos that are of the top most caliber.  Read more about the success story of the Steinway and Sons Piano company which was started in 1836 by H.E Steinweg.


The German cabinet and piano maker Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg builds his first piano in the kitchen of his home in Seesen, Harz. 482 more pianos are to follow within the next decade.


Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg and his family emigrate to the United States of America.michelles-piano-in-portland-or-h.e-steinweg-picture-2


After changing the family name to “Steinway“, Henry Engelhard Steinway and his sons founded the company of Steinway & Sons in a Manhattan loft on Varick Street in New York City.  The first piano produced by Steinway & Sons was given the number 483.  Steinweg had built 482 pianos in Germany earlier.  Steinway piano number 483 was sold to a family in New York for $500 and is now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.


First official public recognition of the prime quality of the Steinway pianos on the occasion of the “American Institute Fair“ at the New York Crystal Palace.


Steinway pianos had received more than 35 medals for their exceptional pianos.


Steinway & Sons opens the first Steinway Hall on 14th Street. With a main auditorium of 2,000 seats, it becomes New York City’s artistic and cultural center, housing the New York Philharmonic until Carnegie Hall opens in 1891.


Steinway & Sons receive high commendation in the official report on the “Paris World Fair“.


In 1871, Henry Sr. dies and sons C.F. Theodore and William take over operations.


Opening of the sales branch, Steinway Hall, in London.


Foundation of the Hamburg Steinway factory on Schanzenstraße.


Steinway Pianos received their first royal warrant, granted by Queen Victoria. In the close following years the patrons of Steinway included the Prince of Wales and other members of the monarchy and nobility. In subsequent years Steinway was granted royal and imperial warrants from the rulers of Italy, Norway, Persia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.


Opening of the showroom (Steinway-Haus) on Jungfernstieg, Hamburg.


Opening of the Berlin Steinway branch on Budapester Straße.


The new Steinway factory on Rondenbarg is erected.


While World War II was happening overseas, the Steinway factory in New York City received orders to build wooden gliders to convey troops behind enemy lines.  Very few normal pianos were made, but many special Steinway piano models were built.  The Victory Vertical or G.I. Piano was one such model.  The Vicotry Vertical is a small piano, able to be lifted by four men, designed to be carried aboard ships or dropped by parachute from an airplane.  This allowed Steinway to bring pianos to soldiers.

During World War II no more than a hundred pianos per year left the factory in Hamburg, Germany as the factory was American owed. In an air raid over Hamburg, the factory was hit by several bombs and was close to be fully destroyed.  After the World War II, Steinway restored the Hamburg factory.   Post-war cultural revival rose demand for Steinway pianos so Steinway was able to increase piano production at the New York City and Hamburg factories, going from 2,000 in 1947 to 4,000 pianos a year by the 1960s.


Opening of Steinway-Haus on Colonnaden in the heart of the city of Hamburg. Sale of the old Schanzenstraße factory.


CBS Inc. buys Steinway & Sons. Incorporation into the Columbia Group.


The Centenary of the Hamburg branch of Steinway & Sons.


CBS. Inc. sells the entire Musical Instruments Division, which also includes Steinway & Sons, to three American businessmen. The new holding company trades under the name Steinway Musical Properties.



500,000th Piano from Steinway and Sons

135th anniversary and presentation of the 500,000th instrument during a gala at Carnegie Hall in New York.  Pictured to the right.


Steinway celebrates the beginning of the 500,000 tour through Europe on December 2 at the Philharmonie, Berlin.


140th anniversary.


Opening of the Steinway Academy, the C. F. Theodore Steinway School for Concert Technicians, the first academy for concert technicians world-wide.


In May merger of the holding company of Steinway & Sons – the Steinway Musical Properties – and the Selmer Company, USA.


Selmer Inc. changes the official name to “Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc.“ and goes public on 2nd August. 3.5 million shares are floated on the New York Stock Exchange at a share price of US$ 19.- The Steinway share is quoted on Wall Street under the abbreviation “LVB“ (Ludwig van Beethoven).


Foundation of a new subsidiary of Steinway & Sons on 1st March called Steinway & Sons Japan, Ltd. in Tokyo.

Steinway & Sons celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of the founder Henry E. Steinway.


In January 1999, Steinway & Sons receives official government approval to open an own office in Beijing, China.


On 1st January, Steinway & Sons acquires piano store Karl Lang, Munich. By taking over the best-known piano dealership, Steinway has raised the number of its own halls in Germany to three.


On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the piano Steinway & Sons introduces to the public a special masterpiece, designer piano –Tricentennial Limited Edition Grand Piano, limited to 300 pieces worldwide. This unique collection has been created by the American Designer Dakota Jackson.

The piano store Karl Lang is renamed into Steinway-Haus Muenchen. The official inauguration takes place on 20th May, in the presence of Maestro Alfred Brendel and Eva Rubinstein, daughter of Maestro Arthur Rubinstein.


On 5th March, Steinway & Sons celebrates its 150th anniversary. Throughout the worldwide anniversary celebrations the highlight undoubtedly is the concert event of the century held at Carnegie Hall in New York on June 5, 6 and 7, 2003, featuring artists from classical, jazz and pop.


Official opening of the subsidiary Steinway Piano (Shanghai) Co., Ltd on January 1. The new corporation with limited liability is situated in Shanghai and supplies the Chinese dealer network.


Steinway & Sons Hamburg celebrates its 125th anniversary of foundation. The highlight of the anniversary events is a festive ceremony with the world-famous artists Vladimir & Vovka Ashkenazy, Detlef Kraus and Lang Lang.

On 16th April, Steinway & Sons introduces to the public the limited masterpiece “125th Anniversary Limited Edition Grand Piano designed by Goertz”, created by the designer Count Albrecht Goertz (1914 – 2006).


After 52 years, Steinway-Haus Hamburg moves from the Colonnaden to Rondenbarg 15, and is now situated opposite to the Steinway factory in Hamburg.

With the introduction of “The Family of Steinway-Designed Pianos” the company opens a new chapter in its history. The third line “Essex – designed by Steinway & Sons” is presented to the piano world and the company is now in the position to offer instruments in three price categories to fulfill each individual demand.


On 29th August, 2007 Steinway Musical Instruments Inc. announces the nomination of Thomas Kurrer as President of Steinway & Sons. Thomas Kurrer is the successor of Bruce Stevens, who retires after 22 years.

There exist no contracts with the artists, which commits them to Steinway & Sons. The majority of the professional pianists prefer a Steinway instrument. Approximately 99% of all concert pianist chose in the last concert season 2006/2007 a Steinway.


To commemorate John Lennon’s 70th birthday anniversary in the fall of 2010, Steinway introduced a new series of 104 limited edition grand pianos designed on the basis of the white Steinway grand piano that John Lennon owned. That Steinway piano can be seen in the 1971 film footage that features John Lennon performing Imagine for his wife Yoko Ono at his home in England.