Skip to main content

The William Steinway Diary, 1861-1896

“[Steinway Hall] Inauguration Concert by the Bateman Concert troupe. Everybody is delighted with the acoustic qualities. House filled to overflowing. Great Success.” —October 31, 1866, Diary Volume One

Steinway & Sons: Promotional Prowess

Over the course of William’s lifetime, Steinway & Sons rose from humble beginnings in Lower Manhattan to international renown. Several important patents—including one for crossstringing grand pianos on a single-piece cast-iron frame—gained the firm acclaim. Its introduction of the modern grand piano’s powerful tone won a gold medal at the 1867 Paris Exposition and established Steinway & Sons and American manufacturers as industry leaders. These achievements, combined with William’s promotional acumen, allowed Steinway & Sons to grow in prominence. Newspapers, magazines, trade catalogs, and concert programs heralded prizes for richness of sound and technical innovation. Expanded, more efficient factories and showrooms were lauded and illustrated in exquisite detail. Steinway Hall performances by Steinway-sponsored virtuosos playing Steinway pianos were celebrated.
Guided by William’s vision, Steinway & Sons fed the period’s ravenous musical appetite with Steinway Hall, a state-of-the art performance space connected to its East 14th Street piano showroom. During its existence, thousands of performances were held in an opulent 2,000-seat space. Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein’s 1871 American debut and other sell-out performances reinforced the public’s association of Steinway Hall and Steinway & Sons with musical excellence.

Steinway & Sons New Piano Forte Salerooms

“Steinway & Son’s [sic] New Piano Forte Salerooms Nº 71 & 73 East 14th St,”
From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 28, 1864
Courtesy of Henry Z. Steinway Archive

Map of Steinway & Sons holdings in Astoria

Steinway Hall interior, about 1866
Photographer unknown, New York City
Collection 178, Steinway & Sons Records and Family Papers, 1857–1919,
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Steinway piano advertisement, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 26, 1860

Steinway piano advertisement, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, May 26, 1860

3 of 7