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Lang Lang Is Back: A Piano Superstar Grows Up

Returning after a career-threatening injury, the world’s most famous classical pianist is rethinking his approach to music.

A left-arm injury forced Lang Lang to take a yearlong sabbatical: “I used the time to rethink everything I do.”https://static01.nyt.com/images/2019/07/28/arts/28LANGLANG-5/28LANGLANG-5-articleLarge.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp&disable=upscale
A left-arm injury forced Lang Lang to take a yearlong sabbatical: “I used the time to rethink everything I do.”CreditCreditGus Powell for The New York Times
Michael Cooper

By Michael Cooper

  • July 24, 2019

It was late one afternoon this spring, and Madison Square Garden’s 19,000 seats were empty as Billy Joel and Lang Lang began jamming onstage.

Pop’s piano man had invited the superstar classical pianist to make a guest appearance at his sold-out April show at the Garden, and they were rehearsing a duet of Mr. Joel’s “Root Beer Rag” during the soundcheck, taking it from fast to blisteringly fast. 

Then they started goofing around. Suddenly they were trading riffs from Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. They teamed up on some Bach. Finally, with Mr. Joel’s band looking on in surprise, the two launched into the thunderous opening of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

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It was as good a sign as any that Mr. Lang — the world’s most famous, and bankable, concert pianist — still has his chops, after a career-threatening injury to his left arm in 2017 sidelined him for over a year.

Billy Joel, left, with Mr. Lang at Madison Square Garden this spring.
Billy Joel, left, with Mr. Lang at Madison Square Garden this spring.CreditKevin Mazur, via Getty Images

After rebuilding his strength and technique, he is returning in earnest this fall. He is again appearing with the world’s leading orchestras. He is again promoting a new album — his first in several years — as few other classical musicians can, with appearances on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and “Good Morning America.” And he is again arousing the suspicion, if not outright hostility, of the classical field by applying lessons from the pop world to his career, trying to navigate a delicate balance between popularization and artistic integrity.

But he insists he is not the same man, or musician. Mr. Lang — who long maintained that his greatest fear was an injury that would leave him unable to play the piano, and therefore, as he once put it, “render me useless for life” — spent his forced sabbatical taking stock.

“I used the time,” Mr. Lang said in an interview, “to rethink everything I do.”

His health crisis hit at a pivotal moment. Mr. Lang, who recently turned 37, is at an age when he must navigate the next leg of the journey from wunderkind to mature — even veteran — artist. Such transitions are not easy, noted the conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, a mentor of Mr. Lang’s and a former child prodigy himself.

“Either the child goes and the prodigy remains,’’ Mr. Barenboim said, “or the prodigy goes and the child remains.”

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That Mr. Lang has taken the first course is evident to the conductor Franz Welser-Möst, the music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, who has known the pianist since Mr. Lang was a teenager.

“We all go through phases, and I think there was a time when success sort of started to have a negative influence on him,” Mr. Welser-Möst said. “Then he was out of the business for health reasons for quite some time, which was a shock for him. Since then he has changed as a musician. Before he would sort of go for the show-off, virtuoso stuff — he was looking in the music for the virtuosic side of a lot of these pieces. Now he has matured. A lot.”Image“I’m going back to basics more,” Mr. Lang said of his new approach to practicing. “It’s healthier.”CreditGus Powell for The New York Times

His pounding bit of soundcheck Tchaikovsky with Mr. Joel aside, Mr. Lang is taking a break from the crowd-pleasing Romantic war horses he made his name with. Critics sometimes complained that those pieces brought out a hammy side to his playing; now he is winning praise with a reduced schedule of more refined works by Mozart and Beethoven. Next season he will concentrate on Bach. In June, he married Gina Alice Redlinger, a pianist he met in Berlinafter one of his concerts a few years ago, and is thinking about starting a family. 

“We went through some difficult times already,” he said, adding that Ms. Redlinger had been a support when he was injured. “And she helped me along.” 

After spending more than half his life as a touring musician, he has decided to give fewer concerts. He plans to cut back to 70 or 80 a year, down from the 130 or so he had been doing before his injury — because he wants more time to, well, live his life, as well as to devote himself to educational projects.

“I need those extra days, because otherwise you can’t really focus on everything you do,” he said.

It’s not that the old Lang Lang — which is to say the young, flamboyant Lang Lang — has disappeared completely.

Few other classical soloists, after all, make cameos at Billy Joel concerts. Who else could get Steinway to name a new line of grand pianos for him this year, the way guitar makers have long named instruments for stars like Eric Clapton and Les Paul? Or work with the director Ron Howard, who is developing a biopic based on Mr. Lang’s rags-to-riches upbringing in China? Or hold his wedding at Versailles with a party Marie Antoinette might have envied, and several columns’ worth of boldfaced names as guests?

But much has changed — down to his practice routine.

Mr. Lang attributed his injury to overwork: He had been touring with several demanding pieces as he taught himself Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand, written for Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in World War I. Mr. Lang wound up with tendinitis, as dangerous for a pianist as it is for a pitcher. It got bad enough that in April 2017, he decided to cancel a few months of concerts to recover; in the end, he took more than a year off.

These days, he is more careful. “I’m going back to basics more,” he said of his new approach to practicing, which he does for an hour each morning and evening. “It’s healthier.”ImageMr. Lang with students from First Avenue School in Newark, where the Lang Lang International Music Foundation has opened a new piano lab.CreditGus Powell for The New York Times.

On a recent morning in midtown Manhattan, he strode into a studio and carefully went through major and minor scales in every key. But now he stopped from time to time to stretch, pausing to slowly rotate his head over his shoulders, or to cross his arms over one another in front of his chest. 

“I want to build more muscles,” he said, “but without hurting.”

A black S.U.V. eventually picked him up to take him to Newark for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new piano lab that the Lang Lang International Music Foundation had donated to First Avenue School — which has also received several dozen Roland digital pianos, along with Lang Lang Piano Method instruction books — as part of the foundation’s multimillion dollar commitment to expanding access to music education in underserved communities. 

As the car snaked through traffic, he spoke about his new album, “Piano Book,” his first release since he returned to the Deutsche Grammophon label — in part to take advantage of the better promotional opportunities available from being part of the Universal Music Group juggernaut — after several years with Sony Classical.

His choice of repertoire on the album is almost a taunt to those who have found his artistic choices overly safe: “Piano Book” is a collection of short, mostly greatest-hits pieces, like Beethoven’s “Für Elise” and Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” 

“A lot of people were like: ‘Are you serious? You’re playing ‘Fur Elise?’” Mr. Lang said.

But, he added, he recorded them because, quite simply, he likes them — and because, even though such chestnuts are played by students all over the world, it is not always easy to find quality recordings.

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The album was also engineered for music’s streaming age. Since big streaming services generate revenue each time a track is played, they reward albums with many short tracks over those with fewer long ones, as with most symphonies and concertos. Within four months of its release in March, Mr. Lang’s “Für Elise” recording had been streamed 5.1 million times on Spotify.

Mr. Lang was born in 1982 on a military barracks in Shenyang, China, where his father, who played the erhu, a bowed Chinese instrument, had a job as an Air Force musician. His parents, whose grander artistic dreams were thwarted by the Cultural Revolution, when classical music was all but banned, got him a piano when he was still a toddler, and he often cites a Tom and Jerry cartoon, “The Cat Concerto,” in which cat and mouse fight through Tom’s attempt to perform Liszt, as an early influence. 

But his parents struggled to pay for his musical education. When Mr. Lang was 9, his father left his job — he was a police officer by then — and moved with him to Beijing so that Mr. Lang could study piano more seriously. His mother stayed behind in Shenyang and worked so she could send them $150 a month, which they had to stretch to pay for rent, lessons and food.

His father pushed him relentlessly, Mr. Lang wrote in his 2008 memoir, “Journey of a Thousand Miles” — and even urged Mr. Lang to kill himself after he was dropped by his first teacher in Beijing. “Die now rather than live in shame,” Mr. Lang recalled his father saying. Mr. Lang’s father thrust a bottle of pills at him and told him to swallow them all before ordering him to jump off their balcony.

Mr. Lang wrote that he almost gave up the piano then and there — punching the wall to hurt his hands, and giving up playing for months. But the moment of madness passed; father and son reconciled; and Mr. Lang returned to the piano, going on to study at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and eventually earn a place at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he studied with its director, Gary Graffman.

“Technically, he was incredible,” Mr. Graffman recalled of Mr. Lang’s audition. “He had this communication thing. Yes, his hands went up to the ceiling and that sort of thing, but even if you closed your eyes, there was really this communication.”

When he was 17, his big break arrived as he filled in at the last minute for André Watts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was an overnight sensation.

His career took off just as China was emerging as a powerhouse of classical music: an important new market for recordings, a required stop on orchestra tours, and a major source of new artists. 

But as the new generation of Asian musicians began to make inroads, they sometimes faced bias. In comedy sketches, Yuja Wang, another star pianist from China, has mocked the trope that Asian players have strong technique but play like soulless automatons. Mr. Lang said that his emotional, expressive style may have been in part a reaction to the stereotypes.

“They were saying that Asians were kind of cold, that they were reserved,” he recalled. “From the very beginning, I always tried to do more.”

He did. And with dazzling technique, exuberant showmanship, canny marketing — and by making the most of opportunities such as playing at the opening of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 — he became a superstar. Like other classical artists, he endorsed a Swiss watch. Far more unusual? He had a line from Adidas named for him, and played with Metallica.

But prominent critics, many of whom had initially been impressed by his talent, began regularly decrying what they perceived as tastelessness in his playing. Anthony Tommasini, the chief classical music critic of The New York Times, skewered Mr. Lang’s 2003 Carnegie Hall recital, writing that his playing was “often incoherent, self-indulgent and slam-bang crass.” In 2015, John Allison complained in The Telegraph that Mr. Lang played Chopin with “a vulgarity seldom, if ever, heard on the London concert platform.”

But audiences — and, as important, leading maestros — continued to be impressed. Mr. Welser-Möst recalled that when Mr. Lang came to Cleveland several years ago to play Bartok’s demanding Second Piano Concerto, the pianist asked him for help with some Mozart.

Mr. Welser-Möst said that he responded by testing Mr. Lang, saying that he would coach him in Mozart sonatas if Mr. Lang would come to the stage an hour and a half before the Bartok concert.

“And he was there,” Mr. Welser-Möst said. “That shows what kind of discipline he has. He was already an enormous star. I don’t know many people who would have that kind of humility.”

Mr. Lang has tried to balance that humility and curiosity with Metallica, Mr. Joel and “Für Elise.” It’s not always easy. Classical music may lament its increasing marginalization from the broader culture, but it is often also wary of popularizing efforts. Even Mr. Lang admitted to occasional doubts.

“I really want to carry classical music into some new areas,” he said. “But sometimes I think, maybe it’s too far? Maybe I should pull back a little bit?”

The violinist Itzhak Perlman — whom Mr. Lang cited as an inspiration for his balance of populism and artistry, along with Luciano Pavarotti and Yo-Yo Ma — said that he always thought hard when deciding to dip his toe in something outside the core repertoire, like klezmer.

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“From the very beginning I always tried to do more,” Mr. Lang said of his emotional, expressive style of playing.
“From the very beginning I always tried to do more,” Mr. Lang said of his emotional, expressive style of playing.CreditGus Powell for The New York Times

“Some people will say, ‘That’s cute,’ and some people will say, ‘Oh, how can you do something like that, you’re a classical musician,’” Mr. Perlman said. “Personally, I always remember what my day job is.”

And so, a few weeks after his cameo at the Garden, Mr. Lang was back at his day job, playing Beethoven’s Second Piano Concerto at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden, Germany, with the Berlin Philharmonic and its incoming chief conductor, Kirill Petrenko. He said that he and Mr. Petrenko spent nearly two hours going over the piece together “almost note by note.”

Shortly after, in May, he played the same work in Los Angeles with Gustavo Dudamel. There, it was part of a cycle of Beethoven’s five piano concertos; Mr. Lang was originally scheduled for the full cycle, but withdrew from all but the Second as his recovery continued. 

Any doubts those cancellations raised about his abilities were dispelled by his nuanced, delicate performance. Mark Swed, the classical music critic of The Los Angeles Times, wrote in his review that it was “something people may well be talking about for years.”

“This was not so much Lang Lang returning,” he added, “as Lang Lang arriving.”

Mr. Lang said he was already making plans to return to the Romantic repertoire. But first he is spending a season focused onBach’s “Goldberg” Variations, one of the most intellectually demanding, austerely unfussy works in the canon — an immersion planned before he got hurt.

And he has other dreams, beyond big-statement virtuosity: to accompany a singer in Schubert’s song cycle of heartache, “Winterreise”; to revisit Brahms; to play new music if he can find the right fit; and perhaps to try and compose something himself.

“Maybe I will start with some children’s songs,” he said, laughing. “Easier! Safer!”

For now, though, Mr. Lang is happy just to be playing again. He said that he had been frightened right up to the opening bars of his comeback concert last year at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer home in the Berkshires.

“It was really a little weird to play the first eight bars — the most weird eight bars in my life,” he said. “I was like, Am I going forward? And then after eight bars, it was: Let’s go!”

Michael Cooper covers classical music and dance. He was previously a national correspondent; a political reporter covering presidential campaigns; and a metro reporter covering the police, City Hall and Albany. @coopnytimes • Facebook

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Alexandre Kantorow Wins Gold on Steinway

EXANDRE KANTOROW TAKES FIRST PRIZE AT

THE XVI INTERNATIONAL TCHAIKOVSKY COMPETITION

At the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition — the Olympics of classical music held every four years in Russia — contestants in the piano category may select their instrument from various pianomakers, and are free to shift allegiances from round to round. The 16th International Tchaikovsky Competition, and its piano competition, reached its conclusion in the evening of June 27.

In his final round of competition, the 22-year-old Alexandre Kantorow, who had stuck with another pianomaker for previous performances, found himself doubtless overwhelmed by the storied craftsmanship and rich, inimitable tone of the Steinway & Sons Model D grand, and, in an inspired, prescient decision, elected to play on a Steinway for the final round.

It was — as it was for 5 out of 7 of the top prize-winning pianists at the Tchaikovsky and for over 95% of concert pianists who performed with orchestra during the 2017–2018 season — the perfect choice. The Frenchman, performing Tchaikovsky’s and then Brahms’ Second Piano Concertos, impressed the jury with his sensitive musicality and took First Prize and the Gold Medal at the XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition — and, ultimately, the $100,000 Grand Prix. Congratulations, Alexandre Kantorow!

Photo courtesy of tch16.medici.tv

 

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What It’s Like to Play a $2.5 Million Steinway Grand Piano

In this episode of This Week In Gear: We were invited to be the very first to bring cameras into The Vault, the hugely exclusive Steinway & Sons selection room, where we talked with Todd A. Sanders, one of the three people who has access, about the how it came to be and the pianos inside it. Also, Tucker Bowe reviewed the “lightest 17-inch laptop in the world” and our staff shares their first impressions of Booker’s newest bourbon expression, “Shiny Barrel Batch.” Plus, Jack Seemer suggest three gifts for dads who love to grill, Tanner Bowden gives an overview of the incredible Peak Design Travel Tripod, and Steve Mazzucchi shares three of his must-buy beard care products.

This episode of This Week In Gear is presented by Flipboard, where quality content from the world’s best publishers and storytellers of every type is discovered.

Episode Breakdown:

The Vault at the Steinway Headquarters

Steinway & Sons has been hand making the world’s finest pianos for 160 years. Now the brand has created The Vault, a highly secure selection room that’s reserved for only its top clientele. It showcases seven of the rarest and most highly valued instruments the company has ever built. We visited Steinway’s factory and headquarters in Queens, NYC, to witness the crafting and manufacturing process first-hand, explore about the hyper-exclusive Vault and, of course, play some very rare, grail-worthy pianos.

What It’s Like to Play a $2.5 Million Steinway Grand Piano

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Julliard’s Practice rooms continue a Steinway grand tradition!

NEW YORK, NY – At the House of Juilliard in the heart of historic Lincoln Center resides one of the world’s largest inventories of Steinway & Sons pianos: Steinways on concert stages, in practice rooms, faculty studios, classrooms and dance studios.

Chief Piano Technician Mario Igrec said the school owns approximately 260 pianos – 248 are Steinways and 231 of those are Steinway grands. That grand collection includes 10 Model D’s, 63 Model B’s, 5 Model A’s, 98 Model L’s, 42 Model O’s, 12 Model M’s and one Model S.

The New York piano maker’s relationship goes back to 1924 and the founding of the Juilliard Graduate School. According to The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music, the school fulfilled last wishes of Augustus D. Juilliard, a wealthy textile merchant who left about $20 million for deserving music students to further their education. Two years later, the Graduate School merged with the Institute of Musical Art to become the Juilliard School of Music. The Institute opened its doors in 1905 under Frank Damrosch, godson of Franz Liszt and head of music education for New York City.

“The partnership between Juilliard and Steinway has been mutually beneficial since both institutions are synonymous with quality,” said Dr. Yoheved (Veda) Kaplinsky, who chairs the piano department and serves as artistic director for Juilliard’s prestigious pre-college piano program. “We both share the ideals of bringing the utmost artistry to the stage, which always requires a collaboration of performer and instrument. Having an instrument with unlimited potential always inspires artists to achieve more.”

“We both share the ideals of bringing the utmost artistry to the stage, which always requires a collaboration of performer and instrument.”

Steinway Artist Murray Perahia gave a master class at Juilliard on October 12, 2017.
Juilliard faculty member, Pre-College piano alumnus and Steinway Artist Emanuel Ax performs at Juilliard’s Pre-College Centennial Gala.
Ingenuity, innovation and imagination come to life on the keys of Steinway pianos behind the many windows of Juilliard. Photo by Chris Cooper

“We both share the ideals of bringing the utmost artistry to the stage, which always requires a collaboration of performer and instrument.”

When Dr. Kaplinsky was growing up in Israel in the 1960s, Juilliard was the symbol of excellence in music education and Steinway was the symbol of excellence in pianos. “My personal relationship with Steinway resulted in my owning two Steinway pianos,” she said. “At its’ best, Steinway is an incomparable product with an incredibly rich sound and great possibilities for nuance. They still remain a favorite among most performers and students.”

 

“Steinway & Sons and The Juilliard School have grown together as cultural mainstays in New York and around the world for more than 90 years,” said Steinway CEO Ron Losby. “From my time studying there, I developed a great passion for music and complete respect for their tradition of excellence in the performing arts. I hold the Juilliard experience close to my heart each and every day.”

Working with Karen Beluso, Steinway’s institutional sales manager of Greater New York, Juilliard has systematically added 14 New York Steinway Model O grands to its practice rooms, where pianos are played incessantly.

“New Steinway pianos in the practice rooms represent a significant development for any young pianist,” said Dr. Beluso, who studied exclusively at Juilliard and holds a doctorate in musical arts. She made her orchestral debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the age of 12 and debuted at Carnegie Hall performing Chopin’s Piano Concerto Number 2 with the New York Youth Symphony.

Karen Beluso, Institutional Sales Manager, Greater New York.

“Having an excellent piano in the practice room is inspiring. Inferior pianos lead to frustration which limits their growth.”

“The quality of the pianos the students use to practice is of paramount importance for their ability to develop technical control and a sound esthetic that will eventually define their artistic personality,” observes Dr. Kaplinsky. “Having an excellent piano in the practice room is inspiring. Inferior pianos lead to frustration which limits their growth.”

To get the most from each practice session, she advises students to listen and focus. “Mechanical practicing is the enemy of artistry and imagination. Befriend the piano and create conversations where every word an note is meaningful. The students’ attitude about practicing is largely determined by their relationship to the instrument. It is rare today that we hear excuses at lessons that are based on blaming the practice rooms. The main complaints we hear today are that there aren’t enough of them,” she said. Juilliard operates 74 practice rooms with pianos in Lincoln Center and another 13 rooms with pianos in the Meredith Willson Residence Hall.

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Integral to Over a Century of Piano Culture, Steinway & Sons Looks to the Future

do not reuse!!!

As the curtain went up at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater during the 91st Annual Academy Awards, and the now-familiar opening notes of the A Star is Born hit “Shallow” began to trickle out, a Steinway & Sons piano was rolled centerstage. Shining under the soft lights, it sat for a moment waiting for Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper to perform what would later take home the Oscar for Best Original Song. Viewed by 29.6 million people, those few seconds became one of the night’s most viral moments, and illustrate how the 166-year-old legacy brand is evolving to meet the needs of piano players and consumers in the digital era.

“It was tremendous,” says Anthony Gilroy, Steinway’s senior director of marketing, at the company’s 11-acre North American headquarters in Astoria, Queens, which has been around since New York City was mostly farmland. He adds that the company doesn’t typically know very far in advance when it will be called upon for those moments in the spotlight. “Usually it’s a fire drill, but we tend to make it happen.”

Lang Lang piano book truck in New York City.

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Established in 1853 out of a loft on Manhattan’s Varick Street, Steinway & Sons has had an impact on piano music that’s hard to overstate. A seemingly endless list of iconic recordings and legendary performances have been made possible thanks to the instrument’s masterful craftsmanship, widely viewed as the gold standard for generations of pianists including George GershwinIrving BerlinCole Porter and Duke Ellington. More recently, the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel, has been utilizing one for his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden (and admits his first splurge was a Steinway). In 2009, Hamilton music director Alex Lacimoreaccompanied Lin-Manuel Miranda performing the Broadway sensation’s opening song on the White House Steinway, a 1938 gift to Teddy Roosevelt, for an audience including then-President Barack Obama.

Today’s most popular classical artists also prefer Steinways. Lang Lang, the acclaimed Chinese concert pianist who recorded his aptly titled latest album Piano Book on one, says, “There is no piano like a Steinway piano. I feel completely at home with their pianos, and I’ve been playing them for the majority of my career.”

Steinways are held in such high regard because they are handcrafted with obsessive meticulousness. “With 250 employees here, we finish about five pianos a day,” says Gilroy. Each instrument takes approximately 11 months to evolve from wooden shell to finished product, an process that begins with Sitka spruce grown on islands off the coast of Alaska. (Trees on the shadier side of the mountains are preferred because the slower a tree grows, the fewer growth rings it has per inch, and the better the sound quality because sound waves travel along the grain of wood.) This inherent customization and attention to detail is the reason for its famously high price point: Some models cost upwards of $200,000. “The price comes from the cost of the materials and the time spent on it,” says Gilroy. “There’s somebody hitting every nail.”

do not reuse!!!
Mike Coppola/Courtesy of Steinway & Sons
Jon Batiste performs as Steinway & Sons unveils the Spirio R at Steinway Hall in New York on March 5, 2019 in New York City.

Painstakingly building high-end instruments from scratch isn’t exactly a process (or business model) that’s conducive to increasingly digital-native consumers, so Steinway & Sons has been forced to innovate. Spirio and Spirio | r are five-year-old projects that bring the company into the present — and future. Developed by the company’s in-house engineers, they’re high-tech pianos: The former plays itself to the tune of live recordings by piano luminaries and the latter is capable of recording user performances for editing and playback. “We have a small lab and took all of this knowledge of player pianos and innovated it with our team,” says Robert Polan, director of product management Steinway & Sons. “We’ve also worked with the best pianists in the world. They challenge us to reach the highest performance and quality they achieve and to reproduce that. It’s been a constant evolution.”

Released in 2015, the original Spirio was the company’s first high-resolution player piano. Since then, Steinway has been constantly updating its catalog of historic and new live recordings, which users can cue up via an app and hear played with all the heart and nuance as if the artist was right there in the room. Polan is a fan of the legendary Canadian pianist Glenn Gould, who passed away in 1982. “I never had a chance to hear him live, but with this technology it feels like he’s right there, playing in front of you live,” he tells Billboard. “The first time I heard it, it brought me to tears. It gives you goosebumps.”

Aaron Diehl playing the piano.

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The Spirio | r, which debuted last month on Steinway’s 166th birthday, allows users of the piano brand to record themselves tinkling the keys, and then adjust the recording themselves via the Spirio app. “We have an editor built into the app, so anything you can record, you have access to for editing,” says Polan. “You can tweak everything from pedal data to pitch and duration and more. It’s like Guitar Hero on another level.”

The advances present myriad opportunities for private owners, companies, and institutions alike. “With the ability to stream high resolution player data over the internet, it makes everything from distance learning to remote auditions and master classes possible,” Polan adds. “For example, in the future Steinway will offer a live streaming service, so we can have Lang Lang sit at Steinway Hall in New York, and perform a master class on a Spirio piano that can be transmitted to another Spirio piano on the other side of the world, which receives it without any loss of quality.”

That’s why Jon Batiste is getting a Spirio | r installed over at his perch as the bandleader for The Late Show and Gaga called for one for her Vegas residency. “They had a very specific need for an acoustic piano, but also needed to do mixing of the piano in the PA system,” says Gilroy. “This piano is capable of doing live acoustic performances and having a digital output. It solved a need for them to have a piano that does both.”

It’s this technology, based on over a century of innovations, that will hopefully carry the company into the next century. “With a Steinway, you can hear the difference in tone and the way a note carries,” says Lang Lang. “These are beautiful instruments.”

4/17/2019 by 

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White House Tour & the White House Steinway

On Friday March 8th after concluding the annual Steinway & Sons meeting in Washington D.C., Piano Centre was one of 50 authorized Steinway dealers invited to a private tour of the White House. A memorable experience and fantastic to witness the historic White House Steinway & Sons model D Art Case piano, performed on by pianist Russell Wilson of the Marine Band (Pictures Below).

treasures of the white house: steinway grand piano

938.1287.1

At a ceremony on December 10, 1938, this grand piano was presented to President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the White House by Mr. Theodore Steinway, on behalf of the Steinway family. The 300,000th Steinway piano, it was built to replace another Steinway at the White House – #100,000, a gilded and painted grand piano which had been given in 1903 (now on exhibit in the Smithsonian Institution).

Seeking to create a unique and distinguished “State Piano”, Eric Gugler – a New York architect, friend of the Roosevelts, and White House consultant in the 1930s – chose a square form with simpler lines than the routine double-curve form. The case was made of fine Honduran mahogany. Although it measures seven inches longer than the standard nine-foot Steinway grand, it has identical musical works.

At Mr. Steinway’s suggestion Dunbar Beck, a muralist, executed the gold leaf decoration representing “five musical forms indigenous of America” – a New England barn dance; a lone cowboy playing his guitar; the Virginia reel; two black field hands, one clapping and one dancing; and an Indian ceremonial dance. Albert Stewart, a sculptor, executed the three gilded mahogany legs carved as American eagles.

Since the musical works had deteriorated somewhat, the piano was returned to the manufacturer in 1979 for a major rebuilding of the instrument within its historic case. Although used in the East Room from its presentation to 1989, since then it has stood principally in the Entrance Hall, where it is often played by members of the Marine Band during social functions.

Office of the Curator, The White House

 

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2019 Oscar night wins with Steinway pianos

Steinway & Sons strong presence on the musical side of the 91st Academy Awards

Seated in the front row as the opening acoustic chords rang out, Gaga and Cooper ascended the stairs and placed themselves at a radiant Steinway piano.

In the Best Picture winning film Green book, Dr. Shirley says to make sure that there’s a Steinway piano at every concert venue, Tony scribbles down “STAINWAY” on a sheet of paper. His doltishness is endearing, not annoying.

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Brad Mehldau unveiling the new Steinway Elbphilharmonie Limited Edition piano

GODPARENT BRAD MEHLDAU

On 13 October 2018 American pianist Brad Mehldau received a very special honour: As godparent of the grand piano no. 1, he unveiled his own piano at STEINWAY & SONS’ presentation of its Elbphilharmonie Limited Edition, enchanting guests at the Elbphilharmonie’s Recital Hall with his performance. For him, it was a very special experience to be able to play a part in this evening. Brad Mehldau is sure of one thing: “I’ll remember it for a very long time.”

The Elbphilharmonie grand piano is a true fantasy piano, whose warm and open tone sang out from the very first moment he played it. “The piano sings back,” says the jazz pianist of the outstanding quality of the Steinway grand piano, “it inspires your performance.”

The experienced pianist knows that it is also extremely valuable to observe the instrument in unity with its surroundings, and he praises the excellent cooperation between the Elbphilharmonie and STEINWAY & SONS.

 

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How we set up a new grand piano out of the box!

Here are the steps of how we open and properly set up a new grand piano! The grand piano pictured here is a new Steinway & Sons model M 5’7″ grand piano

  1. We inspect the crate to make sure there are no abnormalties or shifts caused by shipping – we then cut open up the crate (cardboard, with wooden frame).
  2. Once the crate is opened,  we then see the silouette of the grand piano on its side in a climate controlled, sealed bag. We open up the bag and see the underside of the piano.
  3. We attach 2 of the grand piano legs; the back, and the treble (right) side of the piano.
  4. We then tip the grand piano downward so that the back leg wheel touches the ground and proceed until the treble leg hits ground.
  5. We lift the bass side (left) of the piano to fit the third and final leg. Now we have the familiar grand piano shape set up.
  6. The piano is now on three legs and allows us to now install the piano pedal lyre.
  7. We remove all protective packaging, clean and polish the instrument and further inspect to insure the piano is in perfect condition.
  8. We unlock the action, so that the keys are able to move – the are locked during transportation as to prevent damage.