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In 1958 the Cliburn Tchaikovsky 1 LP was released and sold 1 million copies.

But in 1960 The Beatles were born. The rest was history.

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Originally Posted by George Smith
Originally Posted by Carey
Understood. But was Steinway being equally aggressive in their marketing efforts prior to the war, or did they intentionally step things up during and after the war to take advantage of a bad situation?

This book: Steinway by Ronald Ratcliffe provides some really good information on this topic. There are a dozen pages on the topic that I found fascinating.

Here is a summary:
In the late 1800s and early 1900s Steinway became successful due to opening Steinway Halls in New York and London and sponsoring concerts. They also were a big presence in international exhibitions and this created demand throughout Europe. The piano market was brutal and often ethically suspect. In 1928 Bechstein, Bluthner, Feurich, Grotrian-Steinweg, Ibach and Steinway got together and agreed to a code of conduct.

The limitation order of 1942 forbade Steinway NY from building pianos. The government contracted with them to build glider parts and coffins. The government also contracted for 3000 small uprights called Victory Verticals or GI pianos which were shipped to military locations worldwide and put on naval vessels.

Karl Bechstein was a friend of Hitler which made the Bechstein factory a bombing target. It was almost completely destroyed and all of their wood stock was lost. The Hamburg Steinway factory was declared Enemy Property and put under Nazi custodianship. They primarily built decoy aircraft and rifle stocks. They were allowed to build and sale 20 pianos per month but only in Germany. "Our hearts bled when we had to use our valuable stock of seasoned Red Beechwood to build stocks for rifles." Other Steinway locations in Germany were completely destroyed by bombs including all of their historic records. After the war, New York Steinway sent food packages to the remaining Hamburg employees. Out of 271 before the war, only 55 remained. It was not allowed to legally start building pianos until 2 years after the war ended. The workers kept it going from 1944 to 1948 by rebuilding old pianos many recovered from bombed out buildings.

After the war Steinway definitely took advantage of the rebuilding effort and traveled all throughout Europe selling pianos into newly built or rebuilt concert halls. Also, there was a dearth of printed sheet music and this became a big part of their business as they began publishing over 100 volumes of classical piano literature (often disregarding copyrights).

Steinway London had a Park Royal facility that was mainly repair and rebuilding and some assembly at times. This was destroyed by German bombs in 1940 and did not reopen at Park Royal until 1962. Steinway managed to keep rebuilding during the war at a crowded location on St. George Street. A stock of Hamburg pianos had been hurriedly shipped to London when it became clear that Great Britain and Germany were headed for war. This stock was also destroyed by German bombs.
This is very helpful information. Thank you George !! I was aware that production ceased in NY during the war - except for the 3,000 Victory Verticals - one of which is on display here in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum - along with the Kitchen Piano (the first Steinway piano built).


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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
In 1958 the Cliburn Tchaikovsky 1 LP was released and sold 1 million copies. grin
Some of which often pop up at your local Goodwill. smile


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Originally Posted by trandinhnamanh
To me, when the Steinway sounds bad it's because "Ah, it's a New York Steinway"
It's the opposite for me. Hamburg too often sounds like 24x7 vanilla ice cream and buttered noodles. To each their own.

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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Originally Posted by Vikendios
Steinway, based on concert grands, was in a sense the last man standing.
That's interesting. But the wheels of history are ever turning, and I venture that the next major development (if not already) will come out of China's turf. The 'Lang Lang effect' (or Yundi Li, and later Yuja Wang) in one way or another has contributed to the massive growth of interest in classical music there - estimates say there are upwards 40 million piano students in China alone. What a lucrative market for uprights, with equally promising potential market for grand piano upgrades! Bottom line is, Chinese companies have been steadily consolidating tbe piano industry for their domestic market (including acquisition of controlling stakes at old-guard German piano makers). When the cream rises to the top, the leading contenders are destined for strength in the international markets as well (hello Hailun?)

It'll be a Xiaomi story all over again, but for pianos (within a short decade Xiaomi managed to rise from zero to now the #1 smartphone maker in the world, overtaking Apple and Samsung).


I doubt the similar thing will happen to upscale piano world. It is true that for massive-scale consumer products Chinese brands may leverage their advantages in labor / marketing / culture / nationalism / etc to dominate their domestic market. When it comes to the fine-art pieces like high-end musical instruments, however, I have never seen any Chinese brands that can rise to the top. Think about this: China is also supposed to be the next largest luxury goods market (currently the second) but no local brands can challenge Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Balenziaga, not to mention Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Goyard, Hermes.


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Originally Posted by Teleri
When it comes to the fine-art pieces like high-end musical instruments, however, I have never seen any Chinese brands that can rise to the top.

... said every U.S. piano dealer in the 60s about Japanese brands.

Larry.

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Originally Posted by Teleri
I doubt the similar thing will happen to upscale piano world. It is true that for massive-scale consumer products Chinese brands may leverage their advantages in labor / marketing / culture / nationalism / etc to dominate their domestic market. When it comes to the fine-art pieces like high-end musical instruments, however, I have never seen any Chinese brands that can rise to the top. Think about this: China is also supposed to be the next largest luxury goods market (currently the second) but no local brands can challenge Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Balenziaga, not to mention Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Goyard, Hermes.

It won't happen overnight, but as they say, never is a long time ...
(at one time 'Made in China' was an epithet)


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Originally Posted by iLaw
Originally Posted by Teleri
When it comes to the fine-art pieces like high-end musical instruments, however, I have never seen any Chinese brands that can rise to the top.

... said every U.S. piano dealer in the 60s about Japanese brands.

Larry.

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“Made in Germany” originated in England, because German stuff was viewed as inferior and the consumer should be warned!

Nothing stays the same forever…


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
“Made in Germany” originated in England, because German stuff was viewed as inferior and the consumer should be warned!

Nothing stays the same forever…

But German food has always been better than English food. grin


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Originally Posted by iLaw
Originally Posted by Teleri
When it comes to the fine-art pieces like high-end musical instruments, however, I have never seen any Chinese brands that can rise to the top.

... said every U.S. piano dealer in the 60s about Japanese brands.

Larry.

True, then it takes another 60 years for Japanese brands to reach where they are today (speaking of premium hand-crafted pianos), and a total 100+ years since Yamaha started building pianos. At that time scale, many things could happen (possibly after most of us pass away) while the OP seems to predict for a far nearer horizon (Xiaomi vs Apple in how many years? 5? And that overturn in sale numbers only happened in entry-level markets or Chinese market).


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by Retsacnal
“Made in Germany” originated in England, because German stuff was viewed as inferior and the consumer should be warned!

Nothing stays the same forever…

But German food has always been better than English food. grin

It seems that something does stay the same forever grin

Last edited by Teleri; 08/20/21 02:05 PM.

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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Originally Posted by Teleri
I doubt the similar thing will happen to upscale piano world. It is true that for massive-scale consumer products Chinese brands may leverage their advantages in labor / marketing / culture / nationalism / etc to dominate their domestic market. When it comes to the fine-art pieces like high-end musical instruments, however, I have never seen any Chinese brands that can rise to the top. Think about this: China is also supposed to be the next largest luxury goods market (currently the second) but no local brands can challenge Burberry, Gucci, Prada, Balenziaga, not to mention Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Goyard, Hermes.

It won't happen overnight, but as they say, never is a long time ...
(at one time 'Made in China' was an epithet)

I never said never, but was mostly skeptical about the Xiaomi-story in the premium piano world ("within a short decade ... rise to #1 maker in the world"). What is a reasonable time considered "a short period" in the piano world? Twenty years? True, Fazioli managed to rise to one of the best on its own (and still no one claims Fazioli to be #1 in the world), but I doubt that for any Chinese brands as far as I know how things are working there.


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Originally Posted by Teleri
True, then it takes another 60 years for Japanese brands to reach where they are today (speaking of premium hand-crafted pianos), and a total 100+ years since Yamaha started building pianos. At that time scale, many things could happen (possibly after most of us pass away) while the OP seems to predict for a far nearer horizon (Xiaomi vs Apple in how many years? 5? And that overturn in sale numbers only happened in entry-level markets or Chinese market).

Of course I was reading tea leaves, but I was also hinting at strategic advantage from the financial side. Someone earlier commented how 'everything is bigger in Texas' - then the same logic applies to China, to the nth degree. Steinway was bought for $512M in 2013 so that figure must include illiquid assets (property, facilities etc.). But a cursory look at the financials of the Guangzhou Pearl River Piano (the top piano Chinese piano manufacturer) says they are now (2021) sitting on $262M of pure cash: that is all liquid asset that can be directed toward strategic marketing. I don't know, maybe sponsoring a piano competition with serious prize money, to attract the most talented pianists worldwide? Free publicity!

$ makes everything go faster.

Last edited by cygnusdei; 08/20/21 02:33 PM.

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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Originally Posted by Teleri
True, then it takes another 60 years for Japanese brands to reach where they are today (speaking of premium hand-crafted pianos), and a total 100+ years since Yamaha started building pianos. At that time scale, many things could happen (possibly after most of us pass away) while the OP seems to predict for a far nearer horizon (Xiaomi vs Apple in how many years? 5? And that overturn in sale numbers only happened in entry-level markets or Chinese market).

Of course I was reading tea leaves, but I was also hinting at strategic advantage from the financial side. Someone earlier commented how 'everything is bigger in Texas' - then the same logic applies to China, to the nth degree. Steinway was bought for $512M in 2013 so that figure must include illiquid assets (property, facilities etc.). But a cursory look at the financials of the Guangzhou Pearl River Piano (the top piano Chinese piano manufacturer) says they are now (2021) sitting on $262M of pure cash: that is all liquid asset that can be directed toward strategic marketing. I don't know, maybe sponsoring a piano competition with serious prize money, to attract the most talented pianists worldwide? Free publicity!

$ makes everything go faster.

I feel that there's more to becoming "special" in the piano industry than just funding a competition to bring awareness and skilled musicians to your instrument. If the instrument is not of the utmost quality then your brand will not become legendary, no matter how much publicity you throw at it. Pushing the boundaries of the piano, going where no piano has gone before and actually succeeding at it, is not something I imagine Pearl River being able to do.

Fazioli does not *pay* musicians to play their pianos. The musicians *choose* to dedicate themselves to Fazioli. The day that musicians *choose* to dedicate themselves to a Pearl River, because it is inherently better than any other make on the planet, will be an astounding one indeed.

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Originally Posted by ikkiyikki
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
The whole premise of this thread makes little sense to me. Why would someone judge a piano based on the patents the maker has? The OP says someone told him Steinway has lots of patents and since he doesn't feel that's true or the important features of piano are among Steinway patents, this is used as a basis for criticizing Steinway?

OP can speak for himself but on the surface when one hears that a process has been patented one might automatically think that there's a protected innovation at play which puts that patent holder at an advantage. Therefore one can make the assumption that if Steinway holds a bunch of patents that they're not only leaders of innovation but also that these are yielding advantages competitors don't have and can't (legally) replicate. In practice these patents are often of trivial practical relevance and where there's a real breakthrouogh the competitors will come up with a similar process that is just different enough to keep them out of the courtroom.

All of those significant patents have run out decades ago.

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Originally Posted by Chernobieff Piano
Originally Posted by charleslang
I guess they do compression crowned soundboards, but I find that a lot of soundboards are great and any weakness is often just a matter of factors like hammer voicing, letoff regulation and tuning.

This is an incorrect assumption. There are many types of soundboards, but the compression soundboard is the best type of soundboard that can be installed in a piano. Here's why. Its stiffness to weight ratio. Steinway maximizes the ratio with the use of compression (stiffness)on one end and reducing weight (diaphragmatic) on the other end. This is why i made some videos weighing the boards and other videos performing chladni tests.
Another thing that makes Steinway unique is by indirect compliment from the other Mfg's, by copying many of Steinways ideas(Yamaha,Baldwin for example).

As a disclaimer, i am not a Steinway purist by any means. Their instruments contain many imperfections that can be improved upon. As evidenced by their own journey of improvements.


-chris

Chris always claims that compression crowning is the only way to get the best stiffness-to-weight ratio, but, in fact, similar or greater stiffness-to-weight can be obtained without compression crowning. For a given rib system, compression crowning will indeed yield a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio, but the rib system can easily be redesigned to create the same stiffness with the same or less weight without compression crowning.

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Originally Posted by littlefinger
I feel that there's more to becoming "special" in the piano industry than just funding a competition to bring awareness and skilled musicians to your instrument. If the instrument is not of the utmost quality then your brand will not become legendary, no matter how much publicity you throw at it. Pushing the boundaries of the piano, going where no piano has gone before and actually succeeding at it, is not something I imagine Pearl River being able to do.

Fazioli does not *pay* musicians to play their pianos. The musicians *choose* to dedicate themselves to Fazioli. The day that musicians *choose* to dedicate themselves to a Pearl River, because it is inherently better than any other make on the planet, will be an astounding one indeed.

I swear I was just throwing that idea about piano competition off the cuff, but apparently they are already doing it, lol (Pearl River has child brands Ritmüller and Kayserburg).

https://pearlriverpiano.group/2021/06/01/kayserburg-international-youth-piano-competition/

Anyway, this is all idle speculation, thought experiment etc. But it just so happens that I did own a Pearl River upright (UP115E, institutional model) and I can tell you sound quality wise you can't ask for anything better in an upright (similar to Boston UP-118E but more focused). I can't attest to its longevity because I had it only for 5 years, but I would buy one again in a heartbeat.

And as far as "pushing the boundaries", I think this one certainly would give Yamaha a run for its money (very similar in tone!), plus the wow factor!


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Originally Posted by Roy123
For a given rib system, compression crowning will indeed yield a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio, but the rib system can easily be redesigned to create the same stiffness with the same or less weight without compression crowning.

Not sure I follow this. For every rib system, type A, which has a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio with compression crowning, is it always possible to design a type B system without compression crowning which will have the same or higher stiffness-to-weight ratio, and which will not have a still higher stiffness-to-weight ratio with compression crowning?

Last edited by Withindale; 08/20/21 04:54 PM.

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Re;Steinway by Ratcliffe

I think I remember reading that after the Anton Rubinstein concert tour Steinway as a piano manufacturer reached a high level of success.The impact of the war on German manufacturers was probably far worse than on the Steinway factories in Hamburg and New York.
After the war the Hamburg Steinway received support.The bombing in Germany was extreme.Most of the important manufacturers were bombed.Some important ones fell into Soviet hands.It is remarkable that they survived and today still make remarkable instruments.

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