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Rachmaninoff and Steinways

Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 11:48 pm
by pianola
There must be many aspects of the relationship between Rachmaninoff and Steinways that are worthy of discussion. One element that may have caused tensions is the fact that he recorded music rolls for Ampico, who did not include the Steinway pianos in their range.

I have an internal Artists' List from Steinways in New York, for the 1928-29 concert season, with a listing of pianists, singers, violinists, 'cellists, chamber music groups and orchestras, and the terms on which Steinways dealt with them.

Rachmaninoff was provided with his own concert piano, kept for him by Steinways, his own Steinway tuner, and a piano free of charge in his hotel rooms. Ten other pianists enjoyed these privileges at that time, namely Alfred Cortot, Ignaz Friedman, Leopold Godowsky, Josef Hofmann, Vladimir Horowitz, Mischa Levitzki, Maier and Pattison, Yolanda Mero and Ignaz Jan Paderewski. It is possible that Rudolph Ganz was similarly treated, but the code letters after his name are unclear, and presumably Guy Maier and Lee Pattison only qualified when they played together. Yolanda Mero was a fine pianist, but perhaps her entry to the top division was infuenced by the fact that she was married to a Steinway executive; Percy Grainger and Erno von Dohnanyi were not included, although generally very highly regarded.

Keeping the specific pianos and tuners for these artists must have been a considerable investment, and it shows what indirect profits were to be made by an association with the pianists concerned, especially at a time when television was not there to provide a rival attraction!