The Steinway Mansion
Built in 1858, by a scientific instrument manufacturer, Benjamin T. Pike Jr., the estate was later purchased by the family that gave the mansion the name it is known by today, the Steinway Mansion. The Steinway family purchased the majestic home in 1870 which at the time, included 440-acres of land that housed the piano factory as well as housing for the workers. Today, the “Steinway Mansion” has been home to the same family since 1925. Its Twenty-Seven rooms, including seven bedrooms and five bathrooms were updated in the late 1970’s into the 1990’s with an eye to preserving and celebrating its past and keeping all period details.
Grand piano, ca. 1790 made by Ferdinand Hofmann (Viennese, 1756–1829)
This beautifully preserved cherry-wood piano, which retains the maker’s fragile wax seal on a label inside, was built by Ferdinand Hofmann, a leading member of Vienna’s civic keyboard-maker’s association. He became its president in 1806 and won a court appointment. The striking, almost architectural decor of this instrument typifies the maker’s early work. Knee levers lift the dampers and a knob over the nameplate operates a mute, or moderator. The instrument has a five-octave range (sixty-one notes) and is double-strung in the bass and middle registers and triple-strung in the treble.
Grand piano, ca. 1820 made by Joseph Böhm (Austrian, 1786–ca. 1850)
Like the earlier Viennese makers, the builder of this sumptuous grand piano was also a member of Vienna’s civic keyboard-maker’s association. Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise, is believed to have owned this piano while she was grand duchess of Parma. Exotic elm veneer is enriched by mercury-gilt mounts depicting grapevines, acanthuses, and Psyche at a tripod brazier. Imperial eagles crown the legs and nameplate. The instrument has a compass of six octaves (seventy-three keys) and is triple-strung throughout.
Claviorganum, 1598 Made by Laurentium Hauslaib
This tiny instrument incorporates an organ and a virginal built into an ebony tabletop chest of drawers. The lower keyboard manual is for the organ, and levers at the left of the keyboard serve as stops. A pair of bellows is concealed beneath the top of the chest; two ranks of flue pipes and a regal (reed) stop are arranged behind the drawers in the back. The upper keyboard belongs to a removable octave virginal. The instrument is tuned to approximately A=445. Above the keyboards is a small door with a lock and two carved columns flanking a brass relief panel depicting the Deposition from the Cross. The instrument was constructed by Laurentium Hauslaib during the time that he served at the court of Frederick IV, elector of the Palatinate, and was probably intended for domestic use.
Square piano, 1853 by Robert Nunns and John Clark, New York City
Although most pianos have always had relatively plain exteriors, this enormous instrument is elaborately carved and, according to Laurence Libin, may have been exhibited at New York’s Crystal Palace in 1853. By this date, square pianos had fallen out of fashion in Europe, replaced in the home by the upright, but the square remained in use in the United States until the 1880s.