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Category: Interviews

Pianists are the most important…

"The most important is the winner of the competition, not the piano!" – interview with Gerrit Glaner from the Steinway Company.

Steinway is probably the best-known piano maker in the world. How long has it be in existence?

The beginnings of the company reach back to the mid 19th century. In 1848, the German piano producer Heinrich Steinweg brought his whole family over to the United States. It was there in 1853 that Steinweg changed the spelling of his name and established the Steinway & Sons company. Since then the company has released around 588,000 instruments onto the market.

How do contemporary Steinway pianos differ from the early models?

We just recreated the first piano that the company’s founder built himself. It’s currently in New York and serves as an example of perfect craftsmanship. In the 19th century, pianos were built mainly from wood, which is what gave them such deep tones. Over the years, new technologies and materials were implemented, such as a metal frame or new construction methods for the soundboard – which still remains a secret today. All extend the life of the instrument: they still sound good, even after 100 years. Company tradition is our great potential – just like the competence and experience of our employees. Some of them have been connected with the company for 40 years. They know all the secrets of piano production. The process of building a piano is extensive. We need about a year to create an instrument and if someone wants to buy a new piano produced by us right away, it’s only possible if someone else cancels their order. If we shortened the production process, it would impact on the quality of the instruments and pianists would sense the difference immediately.

The Steinway company has co-operated with the organisers of the Chopin Competition since its origins. Many Competition winners have played on Steinway pianos...

Indeed, several years ago we published a record of interpretations of musicians playing Steinway pianos who have won First Prize at the Chopin Competition. The list is wonderful: Halina Czerny-Stefańska, Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Rafał Blechacz, Dang Thai Son...we’ll see who wins this year. There are many remarkably talented musicians among them. They have other pianos besides Steinway to choose from, such as Fazioli, Kawai and Yamaha. Of course, the winner of the Competition is the most important factor, not which instrument he or she has chosen. Piano producers should also keep this in mind.

Interview by Klaudia Baranowska. The interview published by courtesy of the “Chopin Express” editorial staff.
Gerrit Glaner

Gerrit Glaner