The Steinway Saga: An American Dynasty

D. W. Fostle, Author Scribner Book Company $35 (710p) ISBN 978-0-684-19318-2
In 1850, an obscure cabinetmaker named Heinrich Steinweg moved with his wife and children from Germany to Manhattan's Lower East Side and founded a soon-to-be-renowned piano company that remained in the family until 1972. Fostle (Speedboat), drawing on Steinway family documents and material from New York City libraries and archives, here tells the story of the world-famous piano and the four generations of Steinways who manufactured it. In a virtuoso performance, he combines portraits of family members and their internecine struggles--particularly those resulting from the financial practices of Heinrich's son William, who nearly bankrupted the company with his investments in utopian real estate and transportation projects--with accounts of the technological advances that revolutionized piano building. Also covered are the intense rivalries among piano-making firms, the Steinways' astute use of advertising and the recurring labor strikes and financial depressions that plagued the piano trade. The result is an engrossing narrative of a remarkable family whose history has been entwined with that of New York City for a century and a half. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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