It is my distinct pleasure as a piano historian to introduce you to the crown jewel that manifested itself in the piano world in the year 1884: the Steinway Model D Concert Grand Piano. A masterpiece brought to life in America by the Steinway & Sons, considered esteemed artisans of the piano world, hailing from the bustling city of New York. A year that bore witness to a remarkable number of global events; including the first long-distance telephone call, the founding of the Fabian Society in London, and the Statue of Liberty's presentation to the United States. Amidst these events, the piano's introduction serendipitously marked a turning point for refined musical expression.
The Model D Grand rose to prominence as one of the largest commercially produced concert grand pianos, measuring a majestic 8 feet 11¾ inches in length. Steinway's intention was to carve out a niche for themselves in concert halls, granting performers the ability to fully explore and express their musical capabilities. The enormous size of the Model D has at its heart the purpose of achieving a more resonant sound, allowing the instrument's voice to carry even in the spacious compromise of a concert hall. Bridging the gaps between performer, instrument and audience, the Steinway D truly echoed Steinway & Sons' motto- "To build the best piano possible."
The design process of the Model D commenced with an impeccable selection of materials. High-quality spruce constituted the soundboard, chosen specifically for its light weight, strength and resonance qualities. The instrument's sturdy rim was constructed from hard rock maple and mahogany, employed for their impeccable vibrational properties, durability, and aesthetic appeal. Its patented ‘Tubular Metallic Action Frame’ enhanced the piano's stability and reliability, ensuring that the delicate mechanisms within remained accurate and unaffected by external climatic variations. Indeed, the result was a sonic powerhorse, underpinned by technical precision and material quality.
The detailed musical tone of the Steinway Model D set it apart. Its bass notes were renowned for their rich, robust quality, the ultimate result of the lengthy bass strings. Meanwhile, the tenor and treble sections sang with a delicate, crystalline clarity rarely attained in pianos of lesser craftsmanship, again the consequence of Steinway's meticulous design and careful selection of materials.
The incredible longevity of the Model D owes much to Steinway’s innovative development of a patent action, identified as the ‘Accelerated Action’ in the early 1930s, which permitted quicker repetition of notes, and thus, amplified the technically demanding performances of the evolving piano repertoire. Additionally, the development of the 'Hexagrip' pin-block in 1963, made of multiple layers of hard rock maple, provided an enhanced tuning stability, ensuring the musical integrity of the instrument over extended periods of use and performance.
The Steinway Model D was not merely an excellent instrument – it represented the pinnacle of piano manufacturing that epitomized the Steinway dedication to craftsmanship, material selection, and innovative design. It offered an unforgettable experience – inviting the performers of 1884 to expand their abilities and push their boundaries. It left enraptured audiences and delighted critics in its wake, ensuring a lasting legacy throughout the musical world.
To this day, the Steinway Model D Concert Grand continues to resonate in concert halls across the globe, serving as an enduring testament to Steinway & Sons' prodigious attention to detail, technical innovation, and unwavering commitment to creating the finest pianos in the world.