Initially, Steinway & Sons closed on the sale of its Beaux-Arts Manhattan building on West 57th Street. Just three days after that, they announced their plans to sell the entire company to a private-equity firm. For those pianists who have been fans of Steinway for the past few decades, they are now wondering if this brand-new Steinway will be as comparable to the one in the 1920s. At the same time, they ponder if those pianos made in Germany will be as good as the ones from New York.
Many of these such pianists still hold memories of the very first time that they step into the Steinway building and its famous basement, where many generations of world class pianists chosen the Steinways that they used to play at concerts and recording sessions. These such individuals are the ones who are generally concern about the future of Steinway. One of their main worries also include the fact that the new owners might meddle with Steinway’s time-honored and time-consuming manufacturing methods.
For a normal grand piano, Steinway would usually tend to spend close to a year in building it. However, with new owners now taking over, pianists have the fear that they might speedup the assembly line at the company’s two factories. In turn, this will affect the delicacy of a Steinway’s touch, the coloration of its sound. “There’s concern any time there’s a shift. There’s no way of my knowing: will they take as much care with each piano as they have in the past,” questioned pianist Gary Graffman.
That question that Gary has is one that has been going around the music world since the $438 million deal for the company was announced last week. This offer from Kohlberg & Company, a private equity firm, would take Steinway private. This would be the first time it is returning back to private since Steinway went public under the stock symbol LVB (Ludwig van Beethoven) back in 1996. As of now, Steinway is about 2 weeks into a 45-day “go-shop” period. During this time, they will have the opportunity to take into consideration any other bids. According to Christopher W. Anderson, a Kohlberg investment partner, Kohlberg is “not contemplating any changes to any of the manufacturing operations”. For the rest of the story, feel free to read it here.