The All-Steinway Schools

Hola a todos. In recent years, I’ve been hearing more about the All-Steinway schools. They are the Conservatories and Schools of Music in the US and internationally that have only Steinway pianos in their practise rooms and Concert Halls. Steinway pianos are considered to be the best pianos — although some people would likely disagree and say that L. Bösendorfer is the better piano (and used by the Tehran (Iran) Symphony Orchestra) — which is a major attraction for serious music students when considering where they would like to apply for their advanced music training to work towards a degree in music. All-Steinway Schools are not new. Oberlin Conservatory of Music has been an all-Steinway school since 1877. Quite a long time.

But with Conservatories and Schools of Music trying to be competitive, more and more schools are slowly becoming all-Steinway campuses. It is quite an expense, since Steinway pianos are not cheap.

Some all-Steinway schools I’m familiar with are the University of Maryland School of Music at College Park, Shenandoah University Conservatory of Music in Winchester Virginia and Yale School of Music in New Haven Connecticut.

Surprisingly, The Juilliard School in Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, the Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkins’ University in Baltimore Maryland and the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston are not all-Steinway schools.

There are also two types of Steinways. There’s the US-made Steinway (known as the New York Steinway; the factory is in Brooklyn) — which is what I assume these all-Steinway schools that I’ve mentioned have — and then there’s the Hamburg Steinway made in Alemania/Deutschland/Germany (a tour of the Hamburg factory in a video titled “Ear Opening”). Some people prefer the Hamburg Steinway, including concert pianist Cristina Ortíz. It’s one of the reasons Cristina says she does not like to perform in los Estados Unidos/the United States, because most of the Steinway pianos here in the major concert halls are the New York Steinway. She says she can tell very quickly by playing a few notes whether the piano is a NY or the German-made Steinway. Another reason Cristina doesn’t like to perform in the US is because of the piano placement outside the orchestra stuck out on the edge of the stage for piano concertos. I’ll never understand why that’s done either. The US does some damn weird things, that really don’t make much sense. She said she has to gently ask the conductor if it would be possible to move the piano more inside the orchestra so that the leader/concertmaster is behind her and slightly to her left — just like with pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet in the video below; you’ll see that he’s positioned more inside the orchestra as you can see the leader (first chair violinist) behind and just slightly to the right of the pianist — as is customary in Europe for piano concerto performances. Understandably, she says the placement of the piano effects her playing. She said sometimes the conductor is very accommodating to her suggestion to move the piano in — which also requires moving the podium in some, where the first violins are somewhat behind and to the left of the conductor but that’s not a problem — and other times the conductor wants to be difficult and does not agree to her request. It would also help to hear the orchestra better being more inside the orchestra I would think.

What’s the difference between the Hamburg and the New York Steinways?

“One of the biggest difference between the two different factories is the actions. New York makes their own actions while Hamburg utilizes Renner (an esteemed German action manufacturer). The New York Steinways have unique design elements only available on the Steinway made actions including the Accelerated Action. Another difference between the two factories is that Hamburg Steinway’s tend to have slightly thicker soundboards than their New York counterparts. This means that the Hamburg Steinway’s are a little bit more subdued and it takes a bit more effort to get a larger sound out of them (depending upon voicing).” [Source: The Difference Between New York and Hamburg Steinways]

A comment from someone who bought a Hamburg Steinway:

“Upon receiving my brand spanking new Hamburg Steinway B & A. I gotta say these make new N.Y. Steinways look and sound quite inferior.The attention to detail is night and day between the two. The obvious cosmetic differences that I see that aren’t acknowledged on the technical data Steinway website are; …” (continued here —> ) [Source: Hamburg Steinway vs New York Steinway]

Here’s a short piece by Debussy played on a Hamburg Steinway. It was the encore piece played by pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet after his performance with the hr-Sinfonieorchester.
Debussy: Images – Premier livre (Reflets dans l’eau) ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester – Frankfurt Radio Symphony:
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I don’t own a Steinway, but if I were going to buy a new piano I’d choose the Hamburg Steinway based on hearing them and what I’ve read about them. They are used in most of the videos from European performances that I’ve written about, and they are beautiful pianos. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Previously:

What happened to the renowned University of Maryland Chorus?

BSO and the University of Maryland Concert Choir perform Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op.45

University of Maryland Chorus (A Tribute)

Arts Review: The Rachmaninov Third with pianist Cristina Ortíz

Cristina Ortíz y Nelson Freire play Momoprécoce by Héctor Villa-Lobos

4 comments on “The All-Steinway Schools

  1. Wes in Arlington - GLBTQ

    I didn’t know my alma mater the University of Maryland was an all-Steinway school. Very cool. Appreciate your mention again of the University of Maryland Chorus through the links at the bottom of the article keeping their legacy alive.

    Have a great day.

  2. D8

    Didn’t know there were two types of Steinways. Oh my the Debussy is beautiful on that piano. Listening to that is like having a massage.

Fin. The End.