Each historical epoch chronicles its unique rendition of artistic expression and technical innovation, and the same applies to the evolution of the piano. Among these, the Steinway & Sons Model D Concert Grand Piano, from the pivotal year of 1890, immediately stands out, as a quintessential masterpiece worthy of an intricate examination.
A Steinway piano has always been associated with exquisite craftsmanship, transcendent sound quality, and unsurpassable performance. The heart of such reverence lies in the Steinway family's zeal for harmonious perfection, originating from Heinrich Steinweg's maiden voyage to New York in 1850. However, it was in the year 1890 when the Steinway Model D truly found its voice.
Distinguished with a soundboard constructed from finely-grained Sitka spruce, the 1890 Model D spanned a generous 8' 11.75". It boasted of an acclaimed overstrung scale design, which Steinway had patented only 37 years prior, in 1853. This intricate design increased the bridge length and moved the bass bridge to the center, enhancing the richness of the lower register that would become a staple for Steinway's illustrious tone.
The regal aesthetic of the Steinway & Sons Model D concert grand piano was not merely for show. The beautifully sculpted rim, a symphony of hard-rock maple and mahogany, undoubtedly contributed to the piano's tonal integrity, but represented more than that. Each curve and arch was a proclamation of the ornamental sensibilities of the late Victorian era. Notably, the piano's intricately carved, distinctively styled "ice cream cone" legs captured the fashionable sculpted designs of the period.
The Rosewood veneer, a trademark feature of Steinway pianos that was renowned for its ability to add depth and dimension to the sound, lent an air of timelessness to the Model D. Interestingly, 1890 coincided with a period that piano historians have since named as "The Golden Age of Pianos". Not surprisingly, the Steinway & Sons Model D was a major influencer in earning this period its name.
The ivory keys, modeled from elephant tusks, were a standard of the time and were considered to produce a superior tone and feel in contrast to modern synthetic materials. While abhorred in today's world due to the ethical implications, during the 1890s, it was a testament to the luxury and opulence associated with the Steinway & Sons brand.
Despite the marvel that the 1890 Model D was, it would be remiss to overlook the air of subtle melancholy that surrounded its creation. This model came into existence only three years after the untimely demise of William Steinweg, Heinrich's son and a vital contributor to the brand's development. Likely shaped by a sense of mourning and tribute, the mature and profound tonality of the Model D embodied the Steinway legacy seamlessly.
The Steinway & Sons Model D Concert Grand Piano, from 1890, was not merely a musical instrument; it was a statement. Each curve spoke volumes about the artistic sensitivity, each key articulated the technical prowess, and each note echoed the passion that carved such an unbeatable path in piano history. It was a manifesto of the commitment to blend the elemental beauty of music with the intricate understanding of wood, wire, and ivory. Thus, it is as a timeless, invaluable artifact that the Steinway & Sons Model D concert grand piano from 1890 will remain etched in the annals of piano history.