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Steinway’s Piano Jazz

Steinway & Sons Pianos has rereleased the “grandest grand of all time,” the jaw-dropping Alma-Tadema (pictured left). Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema designed the original Alma-Tadema, serial number 54,538, in 1887 for Henry Marquand, a New York millionaire. Christie’s sold the original at auction in 1997 for $1.2 million, making it the highest-priced piano ever sold at auction.

The recreation is made with over 20 different materials and required 20 months and 5,000 craftsman hours to complete. It employs “every possible art-case decoration” and weighs over 1,300 pounds, according to the press release. It comprises 12 wood veneers (including satinwood, pearwood, rosewood, mahogany, Macassar ebony, purple heart and walnut) and features:

–A fallboard that contains a reproduction of the original Sir Edward J. Poynter

–A lid lined with nine Lauren wreaths, each bearing the Greek name of one of the nine muses. The underside of the lid has goatskin parchment panels for inscriptions by musicians. The lid’s topstick is designed to resemble either an oboe or recorder.

–A flap also inlaid with a laurel wreath bearing the Greek name Apollo.

–The case has 17 different levels of moldings and removable medallions that can be replaced by a family crest. It also incorporates flowering vines made out of boxwood and mahogany, and a frieze that consists of over 6,000 parts.

–A petal assembly that resembles a Roman building that is supported by two Roman-style columns.

–A music stand that is inlaid with copper, brass and tin, and is flanked on each side by engraved brass plates that can also be used as candle stands.

It’s also important to point out that the piano is environmentally friendly and kind to the animals: although some of the veneers are rare, they are not from endangered trees, and the keys are made of boxwood that recreates the ivory look. It also bears the serial number 554,538, exactly 500,000 pianos after the original.

The piano was unveiled December 13, 2001, in New York and is available for purchase at $675,000.

The Alma-Tadema reissue launches the start of Steinway’s Legendary Collection, which will recreate Steinway’s finest pianos built between 1850 and 1930.

Steinway & Sons began in 1853 and has produced 555,000 handcrafted pianos (some manufacturers produce 200,000 pianos annually). Each piano is created from 12,000 components and requires a year to assemble. About 98% of all concert pianists that perform in major symphony orchestras perform using Steinway pianos.

The company was started by Henry Englehard Steinway and sons Henry Jr., Albert and Charles in Manhattan, after having emigrated from Germany and spending several years working in a piano factory. They built the world’s largest piano factory in 1960, and Steinway Hall on 14th Street in 1866.

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Originally Published