Steinway and Sons Unique 500,000th Piano Visits KU
September 26, 2001.
The 500,000th piano manufactured by Steinway & Sonstotally unique in designis featured in the second annual Ku Fine Arts Collage Concert, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, in the Lied Center of Kansas.
The Steinway 500,000th piano was created from East Indian ebony, dyed Swiss pear, and trimmed in South American bubinga wood with bits of brass and Gaboon ebony. In addition to having appeared on major concert stages of the world, the instrument has also been displayed at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The 500,000th is only the third specially designed piano commissioned by Steinway & Sons. The other two, Serial Numbers 100,000 and 300,000, are permanently housed in the Smithsonian Institution and in the East Room of the White House, respectively.
The 500,000th piano, which was unveiled to the public at Carnegie Hall on June 2, 1988, is currently on a world tour, which includes stops in the United States, Europe, and the Far East.
The fact that Steinway & Sons has crafted only 500,000 pianos in its 136-year history is due to the time-consuming hand-crafting process by which every Steinway piano is made. (Other piano companies can mass produce 200,000 instruments in a single year.)
A grand piano contains approximately 12,000 parts; almost all used in Steinway instruments are hand-made at Steinway & Sons' Long Island City (NY) factory. Each Steinway concert grand, including the 500,000th, has as its foundation a 340-pound cast iron plate. Twenty-two layers of wood form the rim, which is bent around the original press invented 100 years ago by C.F. Theodore Steinway, a son of the founder. The rare woods from which Steinway pianos are made are of the highest quality obtainable, often from trees that are several hundred years old.
Nine out of ten concert pianists choose Steinway exclusively as their performance instruments; Van Cliburn, Rudolf and Peter Serkin, Billy Taylor, Elton John, and Ramsey Lewis are all among the roster "Steinway Artists," as were the late Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arthur Rubinstein, and Vladimir Horowitz. End.