Friedrich Reidemeister

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Friedrich Reidemeister (b November 30, 1865 in Braunschweig, Germany; d September 9,1955 in Darien, Connecticut) was the son of Werner Reidemeister, a lawyer and close friend of C. F. Theodore Steinway, who assisted William in settling Theodore's estate upon his death in 1889 in Braunschweig. In 1891, Friedrich was apprenticed to Steinway & Sons in New York. He stayed with the company for nearly 50 years and by the time of his retirement in 1940 he had risen to Director and Treasurer.

During his trip to Germany in 1888, William Steinway arranged with Werner Reidermeister to have young Friedrich go to New York to work at the Francis J. Oakes business in Astoria.(Diary, 1888-09-16) Friedrich sailed October 10, 1888. In 1891 William arranged for Friedrich to work for Steinway & Sons, a fact William immediately telegraphed to Werner.(Diary, 1891-01-19) At the next Steinway & Sons Directors' meeting it was agreed to hire Friedrich as assistant cashier to Koven at Steinway & Sons at $20 per week.(2)

Friedrich enjoyed a long and successful career at Steinway & Sons. Just 5 years after joining the company he was given power of attorney for the company businesses in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Erie.(Diary, 1896-06-12) "For years he was chief financial officer, but also supervised advertising and to some extent retail sales. At the office he sat across from Fred St. at Steinway Hall." (6, p. 144)(4)(8) He stayed with the company for 50 years until his forced retirement in 1940. "To encourage modernization the accounting firm Robert Heller & Associates of Cleveland recommend in 1939 to F. A. Vietor, the retirement of all persons over 70 years old – which included Friedrich Reidemeister." (3) (6, p.205) When Friederich retired at the age of 75 he had been a Steinway & Sons Director and Treasurer since 1905. (3)(4)(5)

William and his family developed a close relationship with Friedrich who was included in many a luncheon, dinner, vacation, theater performance and outing on the boat "Gemini".(Diary, 1896-09-27) Friedrich Reidemeister was also a member of the Liederkranz, the Lotos Club and General German Language Society.(5)(7) In 1894 Friedrich took a two and half month vacation in Germany. (Diary, 1894-06-14; 1894-08-31) Friedrich had married Josephine T. Mertens, sister of the wife of Charles H. Steinway, William's nephew. Friedrich's wife died in 1935. They had two sons and a daughter, William W., Carl Friedrich and daughter Mrs. John E. Arrowsmith of Englewood, NJ.(5) He died at the age of 90 at the home of his son William Reidemeister in Darien, CT.(5) For a time, William Reidemeister had been married to WIlliam Steinway's granddaughter Audrey, daughter of Maud. In 1996, Friedrich's son Carl Friedrich Reidemeister age 90, stated in an interview: "I used to eat in the Steinway cafeteria. I ate at a table next to Vladamir Horowitz once. It didn't mean anything to me then.'' (1)



1. "92 and going strong" The Virginia Pilot, December 26, 1996, p. B1
2. "Directors Meetings," Steinway, Henry Ziegler, New York, Letter dated October 1990 to the Steinway Diary Project, NMAH, Washington, DC
3. Fostle, D. W. The Steinway Saga: An American Dynasty. New York: Scribner, 1995, p. 478
4. "Friedrich Reidemeister," Steinway, Henry Ziegler, New York, Letter dated December 1989 to the Steinway Diary Project, NMAH, Washington, DC
5. "Friedrich Reidemeister Dead at 90", The New York Times, September 7,1955, p. 31
6. Liebermann, Richard K. Steinway & Sons. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955, pp. 144, 205
7. Spengler, Otto. Das Deutsche Element der Stadt New York. New York: 1913, p. 212
8. Steinway, Theodore. People and Pianos. New York: Steinway & Sons, 1953, p. 142