“When hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought Steinway & Sons, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency?” writes Jeff Lunden on Tuesday (12/17) at NPR’s Deceptive Cadence blog. “Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change. Great pianists need great pianos…. Most concert halls and conservatories in America own Steinways, and pianists from Lang Lang to Harry Connick, Jr. to Billy Joel are Steinway artists….  ‘A company like Steinway was very important in bringing music to the expanding country,’ [Steinway director of customer satisfaction Robert] Berger says. ‘They would sponsor artists and send them with our pianos out to the West, to emerging towns.’ Today, a workforce of 300 craftsmen and women turns out about 1,500 pianos a year in the Astoria factory…. ‘Aside from some of the materials, like the glues and things which have improved throughout the years, the piano is very, very much the same piano that you would’ve gotten back in the late 1800s,’ [Steinway employee Bill] Youse says.”

Posted December 19, 2013