Collaborations: Edwin M. Good

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During the 1970s, Edwin M. ("Ted") Good, a Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University, pianist, and piano scholar, compiled a manuscript on the technical history of the piano that would become the book Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos: A Technological History from Cristofori to the Modern Concert Grand. Stanford University Press asked me to review the manuscript in 1979 and a revised version a year later in 1980. We had never met.

In 1982 the Giraffes was published to great acclaim and in 1983 it received the prestigious Otto Kinkeldey Prize awarded by the American Musicological Society for the best book published in music history in 1982.

After Henry Steinway read the book, he sent Good what he would describe as "a fan letter" and invited Ted to visit him at Steinway Hall. In turn, Ted's letter to Henry following a visit in December 1982 reflects their lively conversations about the book and ended with these thoughts: "I would love to see William’s diary published, preferably unabridged, but if necessary in selection. Is Cynthia Hoover going to do this?" As I was involved in many projects, no immediate collaboration was established, but I did indicate to Henry and John in August 1984 an interest in working on a Diary edition, and again in October of 1984 when I met with Henry and Richard Lieberman, a Professor at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York.

Ted and I met briefly at the American Musical Instrument Society meeting in Boston in May 1985, but it was not until late 1986 or early 1987 that we began communicating about a collaboration on the William Steinway Diary Project. A letter to Henry on March 31, 1987, asked for approval to proceed with the project. We explained that I was re-reading the Diary to use it as the focal point for an article honoring H. Wiley Hitchcock; Ted had contacted me about "reviving… earlier interest in editing the Diary for publication," and we both were "excited about the prospect of working on it." Ted, who was making plans to spend his sabbatical leave from Stanford at the Smithsonian (fall 1988 through the summer of 1989), wanted to obtain a copy of the Diary.

The Steinway brothers renewed their approval of the project by lending Ted the Diary microfilm to have photocopies made; they also awarded him a research grant through Stanford to pay for copying, travel, and other expenses. Ted began transcribing the Diary in 1987 and finished it in 2007. He moved to the Washington area when he retired from Stanford in 1991. During October of his sabbatical year, Ted and I met with Henry and made an informal inventory of the entire Steinway Archives for possible microfilming to make it accessible to several institutions. After that meeting Henry sent the following note: "Was great to spend the day with you, and hope I live long enough to see the diary in print" (December 6, 1988).

While Ted and I have collaborated for over 20 years on the Diary Project, our schedules and other responsibilities, including work on the Piano 300 exhibition, made it impossible to give it full-time attention. Ted moved to Oregon in 2001, where he continued to transcribe the Diary. I retired in 2004 from my Smithsonian curatorial position, but still devoted several days each week to the Diary Project, particularly the annotations.