IT TAKES 525,600 MINUTES to build a Steinway & Sons piano. That’s 525,600 minutes. You don’t have to tap the calculator mode on your phone — that’s 8,760 hours. Also translated into 12 months. A whole year.
Over the course of four seasons, 12,000 individual parts are transformed into a Steinway piano by skilled craftsmen. The time-honoured skills have been passed down for generations — from the day founder Henry E. Steinway built his first piano in his kitchen in Germany.
Today, the 165-year old brand is the gold standard of award-winning legends and artists like piano maestro Lang Lang, megastar virtuosoBilly Joel and jazz songbird Diana Krall. With factories in New York and Hamburg, the company produces roughly 2,500 pianos a year.
But not all Steinway masterpieces are created equal.
The stable’s crown jewel is the Padouk Piano, crafted out of a 100-year-old Padouk tree, which is part of the Steinway Crown Jewel Collection.
It’s the only piece in the world to be made of the precious wood. A stunning showpiece, its paper-thin veneer is of lustrous shades of coral red and reddish brown. A glistening diamond is embedded into its fallboard.
The traditionalists are no stick in the mud, blending old-world craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. The Padouk, part of the Spirio series, is a self-playing piano produced in 2016. It might sound marginally creepy when a ghost pianist tinkers the keys, but the effect in real life, when you’re standing in front of the instrument, is one of elevated sophistication.
You can reproduce Lang Lang’s rousing arias at home. Hook up your iPad, choose from over 3,000 live musical performances recorded by renowned musicians, and hit play. The keys will sing to invisible fingers.
Even Lang Lang can do it too. Lang Lang says: “I listened and was marvelled. I must be dreaming…. Buying a piano no longer means having to wait for a pianist to play it at home.”
You can see this one-of-a-kind piano at the Steinway Gallery Singapore at Ion Orchard.
To celebrate Steinway’s 165th anniversary, Steinway will be inviting professional pianist Julian Gargiulo to perform at a closed-door concert on August 25 at 6 pm. The unassuming rockstar with the wild hair and acerbic humour has enthralled audiences worldwide, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Singapore’s Symphony Stage.
Gargiulo says: “Performing on a Steinway is like being with your favourite person, it always brings out the best in you. It is the first thing I ask about when I get a concert and the last thing I think about before I start to play.”