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Book by Barron James
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An alluring exploration of the people and the legendary craftsmanship behind a single Steinway piano
Like no other instrument, a grand piano melds engineering feats with the magical sounds of great music: the thunder of a full-throated bass, the bright, delicate trill of the upper treble. Alone among the big piano companies, Steinway still crafts all of its pianos largely by hand, imbuing each one with the promise and burden of its brand.
In this captivating narrative, James Barron of The New York Times tells the story of one Steinway piano, from raw lumber to finished instrument. Barron follows that brand-new piano—known by its number, K0862—on its eleven-month journey through the Steinway factory, where time-honored manufacturing methods vie with modern-day industrial efficiency. He looks over the shoulders of men and women—some second- and third-generation employees, some recently arrived immigrants—who transform wood and steel into a concert grand. Together, they carry on the traditions begun more than 150 years ago by the immigrants who founded Steinway & Sons—a family that soared to prominence in the music world and, for a while, in New York City’s political and economic life. Barron also explores the art and science of developing a piano’s timbre and character before its first performance, when the essential question will be answered: Does K0862 live up to the Steinway legend?
From start to finish, Piano will charm and enlighten music lovers.
James Barron is a staff reporter for The New York Times. Over the past twenty-five years, his writing has appeared in virtually every section of the paper and has ranged from breaking coverage of the September 11 attacks and the 2003 New York City blackout to The Gates public art installation in Central Park. An accomplished amateur pianist, he lives in New York City.
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