Queens History Is New York's History
19th Century Queens Pioneers With Big Ideas
Steinway & Sons Legacy Permeates NYC & Queens
Manhattan NYC & Astoria / December 7, 2010 / Queens Buzz. In our effort to inform Queens Buzz readers about the full historical significance of the Steinway Mansion, we traveled into one of Queens' outerboros: Manhattan.
We visited Steinway Hall, which is located on 57th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, and which is owned by Steinway & Sons pianos - some 85 years later. Once again, I stepped through a time warp, similar to the one into which I stepped when I visited to the Steinway piano factory and more recently the Steinway Mansion, both of which are located in Astoria in Queens.
Steinway Hall was built by Steinway & Sons piano company in 1925, following the erection of Carnegie Hall, which had just supplanted the old Steinway Hall located on 14th Street, as NYC's cultural centerpiece. Click here to read more about Steinway Hall in NYC including numerous photos, or click this link to visit the Steinway Mansion section of Queens Buzz.
Steinway Hall In NYC
Steinway Family Influential In 19th Century NYC
Continued / Part I of II / November 2010 / New York City / Steinway Mansion section of Queens Buzz. As I entered Steinway Hall I felt as though I’d walked into the elegant, genteel world of classical music. Steinway Hall was built in 1925 and retained its original beauty with high ceilings, classically styled colonnades, the vaulted ceiling adorned with murals ala Michaelanglo and the Sistine Chapel. Not a fair comparison, but they were lovely.
Beautiful oil paintings of Berlioz, Mozart, Beethoven, Rachmananoff adorned the walls. Busts of many of the great 18th and 19th century [check dates] musicians stood quietly by, watching … listening.
The chandelier was modeled on the white house chandelier [check]. The architects of the building are the same that built Grand Central Terminal [which predates which]. In the middle of the large octoganal waiting room there stood an elegant [find another word] Steinway piano.
There were four desks, each with its back to one of the octagonal walls. Lighting lit the paintings, reflecting the images of the great musical composers into the middle of the room, into the middle of my consciousness. The long flowing drapes, the spongy feel of a great green carpet lie beneath my feet. I just liked being here with all the cultural visual stimuli come at me from all directions.
William Steinway is said to have been a great marketer. It was he who came up with the idea to build a great concert hall in the 1800’s to showcase his musical instruments. In the Steinway Hall of old, which was a concert hall and piano showroom, located on 14th Street which at the time of its inception was the heart of Manhattan, the audience had to walk past the pianos prior to entering the concert hall.
The Steinways vacated the old Steinway Hall when they moved uptown in 1925. The center of the city had migrated north and Carnegie Hall had become the new mecca. Hence the Steinway Hall I entered, built in 1925, was located diagonally across the street from Carnegie Hall and to this day continues to send pianos their way to accommodate the desires of many great musicians.
Dan Micella welcomed me into the Steinway world. Today he would guide me back into a great legacy of New York’s past, which if not preserved may fade into oblivion, like the storied notes of the greats prior to the creation of recording devices.
Dan and I talked about the time during which the Steinways rose to prominence. They are reputed to have become the tenth millionaire family in New York. A fact I found hard to believe.
Dan went on to explain that in some senses the piano was similar to the television or personal computer today – it was the home entertainment complex. People gathered round the piano to entertain themselves and one another.
As he was telling me this I reflected back to the silent movies where the piano was always a part of the background. I thought of the many westerns I had watched where the dance halls always had a piano – albeit not likely a Steinway. I was told that in their heyday, there wwere 200 companies building pianos along the east coast of America.
We will post a link to Part II of this story when we get around to finishing it.
Photos of Steinway Hall In New York City
The following slide show contains photos taken of Steinway Hall. Story to follow at a later date. Click here to enter the photo album for Steinway Hall in New York City.
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