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Pittsburgh's Steinway Piano Gallery to close

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

In case you missed it: The Steinway Piano Gallery, the area's sole Steinway dealer, is closing up shop. Head to the West End this weekend for good deals (?!) on some of the world's best pianos.

The Steinway Piano Gallery opened in the West End in 2012. It is part of a long lineage of Steinway dealers in Western Pennsylvania.The Steinway Piano Gallery opened in the West End in 2012. It is part of a long lineage of Steinway dealers in Western Pennsylvania. (John Heller/Post-Gazette)

Here are a few bits of information that I wasn't able to squeeze into today's story:

The Past

Stephen Karlinchak, the Post-Gazette's indispensable librarian, tracked down some of the earliest instances of Steinways in Pittsburgh.

What he found is that for almost as long as there have been Steinway pianos, there have been Steinways in Pittsburgh.

The piano builder was founded in 1853, Steinway's New York shop advertised in Pittsburgh newspapers as early as 1855, and H. Kleber & Bro. was selling them locally by 1857.

Henry Kleber had a major impact on music in Western Pennsylvania as a singer, member of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic Society, teacher and friend of/collaborator with Stephen Foster. He opened up the store "Sign of the Golden Harp" on Third Street in 1846, and his shop was the first to import pianos via canal over the Allegheny Mountains, according to the website Pittsburgh Music History.

Around the turn of the century, Steinways were sold by other shops, including Frederich's on Smithfield Street and C.C. Mellor on Wood Street, which advertised the pianos up until 1942. Mellor's, the first music store in Pittsburgh, was founded in 1831 as Smith, Peters & Company. Horne's department store in Downtown started selling Steinways by 1948, and Trombino's Piano Gallerie became the local dealer in 1986. 

So, some of the years are fuzzy, and we may be missing a store or two in there, but more or less, the timeline of local Steinway dealers is: H. Kleber & Bro. (1857-late 19th century), Frederich's (turn of the 20th century), C.C. Mellor (1910 or so), Horne's (starting around 1948-1985 or 1986), Trombino's (1986-2011), and the Steinway Piano Gallery (2012-present). 

Newspaper archives were a critical source of information on this arcane subject. How times have changed: The West End gallery advertised this weekend's liquidation via direct mail and social media.

steinway 3Steinway industry consultant Tony Thomas is running the Steinway Piano Gallery's liquidation sale Thursday-Sunday. (John Heller/Post-Gazette)

The Recent Past/The Future

Steinway & Sons has undergone significant change in recent years. It closed the iconic Beaux Arts building on West 57th Street in New York City, and a new, more technology-prone Steinway Hall on Sixth Avenue is under construction. In 2013, hedge fund manager John Paulson purchased the company. He has said that he plans to "preserve" the brand's craftsmanship and commitment to quality, while expanding into markets such as Brazil and China. 

While the U.S. remains the largest market for Steinways, China is Steinway's fastest-growing market and will "probably pass the American market" at some point, according to Anthony Gilroy, director of marketing and communications for Steinway & Sons — Americas. The company has been selling in China for about a decade, and Chinese immigrants have even provided a boon to U.S. sales, he said.

Closer to home: It seems pretty clear that there will be a factory-run showroom in Pittsburgh. Mr. Gilroy said it's possible that Steinway would find a local gallery owner, "but there's no plans that I know of to go that route at the moment."

He was optimistic about the success of a gallery in the Pittsburgh market because of the city's Cultural District and high concentration of doctors (among the company's most reliable clients). It's unclear whether the Pittsburgh store will have retail hours or be by appointment only. One important fact: "Events tend to sell more pianos than walk-ins," Mr. Gilroy said. For example, recitals are more effective than typical retail hours at bringing piano-lovers into the store — and familiarizing them with the Steinway products. That may be a clue about the direction the company will take here.

The Steinway Society of Western Pennsylvania has collaborated with the West End gallery on its young artists programs in the past, and Mr. Gilroy said the new showroom would maintain that relationship.

OK, there's always more to tell, but I think that's enough for now!

 

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Liner Notes XIX

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Lots of stuff about orchestras, and the different ways they connect with audiences (or don't)...enjoy!

From the Wall Street Journal, the Congolese orchestra making waves around the world http://www.wsj.com/articles/congolese-symphony-hits-high-notes-around-the-globe-1442167845

From the Economist, virtual reality and Beethoven http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21669956-technology-could-help-classical-music-attract-new-audiences-dimension-no-3 

From the Washington Post, an excoriating assessment of the National Symphony Orchestra https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/the-national-symphony-orchestras-forte-for-falling-flat/2015/10/09/4bf56aaa-65cb-11e5-9223-70cb36460919_story.html 

From the Wall Street Journal, the rise of symphonic video game concerts (something you see in Heinz Hall somewhat regularly!) http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-videogames-are-saving-the-symphony-orchestra-1444696737 

From the New York Times, a hospice nurse listens to Strauss (performed by the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra) http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/03/finding-the-meaning-of-death-in-a-concert-hall/?_r=0 

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PSO seeking mash-up artists

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is looking for a few good mash-up artists to perform for an audience of 1,000-plus at the pre-concert happy hour for the upcoming FUSE@PSO concert. Student groups or individuals can enter the competition (although there looks to be no guarantee that the orchestra will pick anyone to perform). FUSE@PSO, led by creative director Steve Hackman, is a new initiative by the symphony that seeks to connect modern pop music with classical masterworks. The Oct. 6 concert, for example, brings together Coldplay and Beethoven, and this summer's installation centered on Brahms and Radiohead. 

More info from the PSO:

PITTSBURGH – In conjunction with the FUSE@PSO concert, Beethoven+Coldplay, on Tuesday, October 6 at Heinz Hall, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and series Creative Director Steve Hackman have announced a Coldplay cover/mash-up competition for local students of all ages.
Students are invited to create a mash-up or cover of the Coldplay song of their choice and submit to the contest by October 4. Up to two individuals or groups could be chosen to possibly perform their piece live at Heinz Hall for more than 1,000 attendees of the FUSE concert pre-party. Everyone who submits an entry will receive a free ticket to the FUSE concert on October 6. Reimbursement for travel to Heinz Hall is not provided.

Entries should follow these guidelines:

- Entries should be a mash-up or cover of a Coldplay song of the entrant's choice, no more than 5 minutes in length.

- Both vocal and instrumental entries are welcome (voice+piano, voice+guitar, string quartet, a cappella groups, brass quintet, etc.).

- Both electronic instruments (laptops, synthesizers) and amplified instruments are welcome.

- Ensemble size should not exceed 15 people.

- Creativity and variety are encouraged in the spirit of the series!

To enter, students should submit a video link (YouTube or similar) of a cover to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by October 4 and include the name of every person in the ensemble, which schools they attend, and majors or areas of focus (if applicable).

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

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Noah Bendix-Balgley officially leaving PSO

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Noah Bendix-Balgley, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's terrific concertmaster since 2011, has officially put in his notice that he'll be leaving the PSO for the Berlin Philharmonic.

The violinist won Berlin's first concertmaster job in February 2014, but divided his time last season between the Pittsburgh and Germany posts. The PSO expects to form a committee and begin the process of finding his replacement this fall, according to Louise Sciannameo, vice president of public affairs. In any case, he will perform a few times in Heinz Hall this season. He's also featured in a Chamber Music Pittsburgh concert with pianist Orion Weiss in November

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Liner Notes Vol. XVIII

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

It's almost fall, and you know what that means: Pittsburgh's classical scene is about to return to full force. Prep for the busy concert schedule with a few pieces from the world of music journalism:

From the Boston Globe, the Boston Symphony's music director Andris Nelsons and the role of the orchestral conductor https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2015/08/08/reading-cues/dxRlwKRQs4CZMJJGjwfI3M/story.html 

From the New York Times, the staging of rape scenes in modern opera productions http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/arts/music/when-cries-of-rape-are-heard-in-opera-halls.html 

From San Francisco Classical Voice, an interview with the Louisville Symphony's 28-year-old music director, Teddy Abrams https://www.sfcv.org/events-calendar/artist-spotlight/teddy-abrams-an-ambitious-conductor-tackling-big-questions 

From WQXR, why new operas rarely get revivals http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/why-do-contemporary-operas-rarely-get-revivals/ 

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