1784 Stein Grand Piano

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Among the great piano builders in history, the name of Johann Stein ranks among the most important. During the 1770s, Stein departed from building organs and clavichords to experimenting with piano design, leaving the tradition of Cristofori and Silbermann to create his own action: simple, lightweight, reliable, and fast. The School of Stein quickly became the choice for German builders and those in Vienna, who adopted it quickly. Today we speak of this as the ‘Viennese Action,” but its origins were in Augsburg. The youthful Mozart wrote at length about the qualities of Stein’s pianos, much in the way of begging for one from his father.

This well-known example was part of the basis for many thousands of copies of the Stein fortepiano made as kits by Zuckermann and Hubbard. The walnut veneer is embossed with brass-colored composite medallions in ovals on the bent side, four round, tapered fluted legs, and an original spruce soundboard. The decoration is unusual for Steins, which were usually quite plain, and may be a later embellishment.

Listen to this instrument being played!


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