OCT. 23 I STEINWAY I EXTENDED EDITION TRIBUTE
Henry Ziegler Steinway
Henry Ziegler Steinway died on Sept. 18 at his home in New York. He was 93. Steinway was the great-grandson of Heinrich Engelhard Steinway who emigrated to the United States from Germany in 1850 and founded Steinway & Sons in 1853.
Steinway joined the family business in 1937 after studying at Harvard. He became president of the company in 1955 but had to sell it to the television channel CBS in 1972 for $23 million. He then served as chairman from 1977 to 1980.
He remained as a consultant even after retiring and after the company later changed hands again in 1985 and 1995.
“As far as the brand is concerned, he was the brand,” said Paul Murphy, president of M. Steinert & Sons in Boston. “He lived the brand. Back in the ’70s, the Steinway factory would close at 3:30 p.m. One Friday night, I called the factory at 6 p.m. because a customer was in a panic. A guy answers the phone — it was Henry Steinway! Not only did he answer the phone, but he knew how to solve my customer’s problem. He was that hands on.”
Up until a few months ago Steinway was still putting in hours at Steinway Hall most days. He also went to the factory to autograph just-finished pianos.
“We would visit the basement where he signed some pianos and then have lunch at his favorite coffee shop,” said Grant Billings, owner of Steinway Piano Gallery in Madison, Wis. “Spending even a few moments with him made one feel they could take on the world.”
Steinway also served as a goodwill ambassador, visiting piano dealers, attending music industry conventions and acting as the founding president of the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, Calif.
Last year, President Bush awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the government’s highest award in the arts.
In a statement from Steinway & Sons posted on the company’s Web site, Steinway is remembered: “His familiar presence at Steinway Hall was our greatest treasure. An avid correspondent with curators, customers, Steinway dealers and celebrated artists through the years, Mr. Steinway enjoyed a perspective of the changing musical world that few in our industry will experience. Our lives have been forever enriched by his personal warmth, his candor and by his unwavering faith in the instrument that bears his name.”
Steinway is survived by his wife, Polly; daughters, Susan and Kate; sons, William, Daniel and Henry; sister, Lydia Cochrane; and seven grandchildren.