From the Library: Pianoforte Performance

On this day in 1853, Hen­ry Engel­hard Stein­way, a Ger­man immi­grant to New York, found­ed his new com­pa­ny, Stein­way & Sons, in a loft on Var­ick Street in Man­hat­tan, to make pianos of the finest qual­i­ty. Hen­ry and his sons went on to build pos­si­bly the best-known name in pianoforte craft in the world.

Hen­ry had built 482 pianos by hand in his native Ger­many. Num­ber 483, the first made by the new com­pa­ny, was sold to a New York fam­i­ly for the prince­ly sum of $500.

Over the next three decades, Stein­way’s com­pa­ny essen­tial­ly devel­oped the mod­ern piano, intro­duc­ing 127 patents and dra­mat­i­cal­ly improv­ing the design of the instru­ment. Stein­way’s musi­cal inno­va­tions were both an art and a sci­ence: the 19th cen­tu­ry was a time of sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery, not least the birth of the sci­ence of acoustics.

In 1866, the com­pa­ny opened the Stein­way Hall, a 2000-seater audi­to­ri­um and home for the New York Phil­har­mon­ic. By this time, the com­pa­ny had moved to new premis­es in Asto­ria, Queens, and built the Stein­way Vil­lage, which locat­ed all the mate­ri­als and crafts­peo­ple required to build Stein­way pianos togeth­er in one place.

In recog­ni­tion of the Stein­way anniver­sary, today’s pro­gramme fea­tures piano music and piano com­posers, includ­ing a wide range of mate­r­i­al, pri­mar­i­ly but not exclu­sive­ly in a clas­si­cal vein. As usu­al there will be a few sur­pris­es — music of Erik Satie per­formed by cham­ber orches­tra and solo Moog syn­the­sis­er, for exam­ple, and a col­lec­tion of clas­si­cal pieces inter­pret­ed by David Rees-Williams — and a few spe­cial treats, like the orig­i­nal piano ver­sion of Mus­sorgsky’s Pic­tures At An Exhi­bi­tion,  but through­out the day you’ll be treat­ed to some won­der­ful music for the pianoforte. And if you’d like to read more about the his­to­ry of Stein­way, here’s the His­to­ry page of their web site.

The ZBS Radio Hour

Then join us at 11am and 7pm Pacif­ic Time, that’s 19:00 and 03:00 GMT, for two excit­ing adven­tures from our friends at ZBS Foun­da­tion in the ZBS Radio Hour. At the top of the hour, Jack Flan­ders returns to where it all began — his aun­t’s mys­te­ri­ous Vic­to­ri­an man­sion where all man­ner of strange goings-on unfurled and he dis­cov­ered many oth­er worlds both with­in and with­out, over 35 years ago, in Return to Inver­ness. Then at the bot­tom of the hour it’s Ruby the Galac­tic Gumshoe, in Ruby 5.

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with our friends at the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link:

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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