Friday, March 28, 2008

Steinway and a Value System

Why do people want to drive a Bugatti Veyron? What does it have that makes my little "Lexi" a peon-mobile? What makes a person spend $2million+ on Steward Weitzman shoes? Is it the red carpet? Why wear Vacheron Constantin’s Tour de l’Ille watch? It doesn't tell better time than your Timex. How about Clive Christian No1 for Woman as your number one feminine scent? One can't see it (the scent), so its not free advertising or a status symbol like the others. Why would one want to write with The Mystery pen created by Montblanc and Van Cleef & Arpels? My Bic from Walmart works terrifically and if I lose it (which I'm very prone to do)... oh well. Why go broke to taste the Grand Opulence Sundae, Fritz Knipschildt's handmade chocolates , or drink Kopi Luwak coffee? Don't you like Leatherby's and See's candy? And by the way, be thankful for your Starbucks... whatever. So tell me why would a pianist desire the Steinway? You had to ask, didn't you?!

Steinway and Sons state: "It's difficult to tell merely by looking at various grand pianos how technologically advanced they may be. This is because every piano since 1859, has tried to follow the lead of Steinway.
It was in that year that Steinway & Sons first combined two major innovations: a full cast-iron plate, allowing enormous string tensions, and the patented Steinway over-strung scale, which permits longer bass strings for more volume and better resonance.
By the end of the 19th Century Steinway's technical leadership was unparalleled, refining and improving virtually every aspect of the piano. And the parade of advancements continues to this day, with 115 patents including the following:
The Steinway Diaphragmatic® soundboard which provides freer vibration for rich tonal response.
The patented Accelerated® action, giving the player instant response, as well as the ability to repeat notes as quickly as a key is struck.
The Hexagrip® pinblock assuring precise, longer-lasting tuning.
The finest most advanced pianos in the world today are Steinways. But the finest Steinway of all will be the one we build tomorrow."

There are some things worth splurging for. I have to admit that the Steinway is one of those items. I don't profess to have answers to all of the questions first listed, but those of you who play classical piano the answer to the last one is evident. The look, feel, and sound of the Steinway is unlike any other in its genre.

You may ask why I mentioned all the very distinguished, elaborate, exclusive, and extremely expensive items prior to the piano. Quite frankly, I thought it was interesting researching why people are willing to pay exorbitant prices for certain things. My point here is that people hold different values on different things. Sometimes its quite humorous and/or sad to observe people's value system. I have friends who love fine dining but can't afford to pay for health insurance. I also knew a man once who bought an exclusive (and pricey) women's fragrance for his fiance that could only be purchased in France but at the same time he could have used that money to make a down payment on a much needed car. It is kind of funny, isn't it? But only is it funny to people who think like me. My value does not lie where theirs does. My value is in music and quality sound. Would I neglect health insurance for a while? Would I forgo a new car and keep a rattletrap? Could I scrimp on groceries (as long as my son is healthy and nourished)? ABSOLUTELY! Maybe my value system is somewhat skewed to some people just as theirs might be skewed to my value system.

The Steinway piano not only sets a world standard to how a piano should look, feel, and sound, but also, as the Steinway company states it, it is "a treasured possession that grows in value over the course of time." According to Forbes, the retail value of the Steinway over the past 10 years has appreciated 200%. In addition, vintage Steinways command a 4.3 times higher retail cost than the original cost.

By way of comparison, the Steinway outperforms other symbols of luxury renowned for their enduring financial value such as gold, the Mercedes Benz, wine, and vintage powerboats ( Since 1853, Steinways have been built to a standard and not to a price. They are pure quality built by hand. It takes one year to build this piano. "The best products are designed not so much to meet specifications and fulfill customer requirements as they are to match or surpass customer expectations. Steinway & Sons refuses to skimp on materials, labor and effort in the construction of a musical instrument that is as close to perfection as the hand and cunning of man can make it."— Christopher Knowlton, reporter "What America Makes Best"Fortune magazine, June 1988 Due to their quality of sound, feel, and the stage presence, 90% of all concert pianists choose the Steinway to perform on.

Have you ever had the opportunity to play on a Steinway? Notice the sensitivity in how the keys respond to your finger touch. Its like a well-trained horse under the master and all it takes is a subtle touch to make the horse obey. Notice the beauty of the silence and the roaring fff. Notice how the melody almost seems to have transformed into a crystal bell. Notice the beauty in all the chords coming together in one giant symphony of an instrument. Notice how it inspires and commands its performer to excellence. Notice the regal stance it takes all alone pre-concert... how utterly confident in itself it appears. Notice its invaluable worth to a pianist:

"I have long admired Steinway pianos for their qualities of tone clarity, pitch consistency, touch responsiveness, and superior craftsmanship." Billy Joel

"I insist on Steinway. In concert, in recording, even in my home. I use only the best and the best is Steinway." Roger Williams

"I choose the Steinway piano because of its rich depth of tone, gigantic range of timbres, and the unique individuality of each instrument." Marcus Roberts

"The more I hear nuances of sound, the more I realize the wealth of colors only the Steinway produces." Murray Perahia

Notice the worth of a Steinway to a banker:

"Steinway Piano Sold at $390,000. A Record.""The Steinway grand piano that reigned for a half-century in the upstairs lounge of the Martin Beck Theatre on West 45th Street in New York City, was sold at auction to a New York investment banker for $390,000 — the highest price ever paid for a musical instrument or for any piece of 19th century furniture."— The New York Times March 27, 1980.(Note: This piano was later sold to a private museum for $1.2 million.)

Now... Notice your utter disdain of electronic keyboards and cheaply made pianos and your old value system.


Janell said...

This is absolutely BRILLIANT!!!!!!! You are the best sales lady around!!! Steinway should produce a magazine (if they don't already) and you should be a columnist!
AND...I have to agree with you! There is absolutely nothing in the world that can match the feeling of touching a Steinway. They are such head and shoulders above the rest, and I've never met a pianist that declared otherwise. They're unarguably the finest instrument makers! I sure wish I owned one...I certainly would give up a lot! hahahaha! It's very interesting how you presented the value systems here! Because I laugh at the extravagant things people buy, yet they would think I was crazy if I sold my car to own a Steinway. (Which I'd do, if my car matched the price of a Steinway)
They're such a great investment! I will try to own one someday.
Wow, great posting! You've really sparked my interest here, obviously! Hahahaha!

James D. Wilder said...

Aydin, are you taking notes here? Ahem.

Jana Allard said...

Oh my!!! I have to tell you something. I have a Story & Clark grand in my living room and it was built by Steinway. It has all those qualities you spoke of. It is the only piano I enjoy playing. The touch is so light, the sound so brilliant, and it takes away any sad spirit. Now the next thing I want, is a gold gilt concert pedal harp. Of course, I need to learn how to play one, but that is my dream when I retire. LOL

Music Eloquence said...

Janell, HAHAHA!!! Thank you very much (taking a bow). Steinway is paying me for this. lol... I wish. I really found it interesting doing the research. I knew how much I loved this piano, but found it so interesting to note all that comprised to make it so taking a year to make it ... and by hand. It was fascintating stuff. Then... I really enjoyed learning all about the really expensive items. I was cracking up... its a different life for sure. lol. When I'm rich and famous (haha), I told Jeremy I will own a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes. That will be my only splurge. =) lol
Hey all, don't knockem till you've tried em. =P

James... Aydin... truly a worthy investment. And it is that... didn't you read?

Sis.Allard... oh how fortunate you are. I would love to have one in my house. ... And the harp, I think that would be so neat to entertain your guests on a harp as they enter your home for dinner. You go girl!! There's your next music cd project. =D