Around the time I got serious about buying a grand piano, I was in Manhattan for an anniversary getaway. For one whirlwind weekend, we saw as many sights as we possibly could by foot, subway, taxi, and ferry. On Saturday afternoon we set out walking on West 57th Street. At 5th Avenue we made a brief detour into Tiffany’s. It was lovely, but nothing really caught my eye. [I know what you ladies are thinking, "That can't be right!?"] Our destination was between Sixth and Seventh Avenues – Steinway Hall.

Steinway & Sons was founded in New York in 1853 a few years after German piano maker Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg emigrated to the United States. Steinway & Sons has earned a worldwide reputation as makers of premium pianos. It takes about a year to hand-make each Steinway piano. Steinway Hall was built in 1925 and played an important part in America’s emerging music community. It now serves as Steinway & Sons’ flagship piano showroom.

We stepped through the door, and all the street noise faded away. A few steps inside we came to a sudden stop, awestruck by the beauty of the two-storey rotunda. We were in piano heaven. The sales staff welcomed us and invited us to look around. There were rooms full of beautiful pianos…uprights, grand pianos, art case pianos, really big concert grand pianos…over 150 instruments. We spent the next two hours wandering around the showrooms. I think I may have played every single piano. The best part was playing the 9-foot concert grand in the rotunda.

Seriously, the best afternoon ever. I didn’t get to choose a Steinway to bring home on that trip, but maybe some day I will. And I did eventually find a grand piano that fit me just right, but that’s a story for another day.

Remembering this has reminded me of why having a good-quality acoustic instrument is so important to the pianist. I’ll talk about it over the next few postings.