The history of Steinway pianos is closely intertwined with the almost even more colourful history of the Steinway family itself. Several books have been written on this fascinating dynasty. One book I read included an anecdote which would simply not let me go – I had to go and check it out for myself – a sort of pilgrimage.
The story goes that in 1870, the family patriarch and company founder, Henry Engelhard Steinway had a great family mausoleum built in Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The cost at the time was almost $50,000. Considering that one could buy a very comfortable house to live in for $1,000, this was probably equivalent to purchasing a whole sub-division! The thought to visit this site if I ever had the chance would not let me go.
The opportunity arose with a recent trip to New York City. The subway dropped us off in Brooklyn within walking distance of Green Wood. It was a gray and rainy mid-week day, we were all alone in a cemetery so large that you have to pay close attention to the map as to not get lost. After a spell walking the weaving roads, we rounded one last curve and staring down on us from the top of a hill was the final resting place of the Steinway clan.
The massive granite structure is reminiscent of a fortress. Family patriarch Henry (Heinrich) Steinway was the first to be interred here, a year after its completion. In the following years and decades, his wife, sons and their families followed. The tomb is large enough to hold many more generations of Steinways.
One more thing crossed off my bucket list….