Fred Patella tunes an early 20th century Steinway baby grand piano during a Christies auction media preview.
Fred Patella tunes an early 20th century Steinway baby grand piano during a Christies auction media preview. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

To understand why Steinway is so legendary, you should take a trip to the piano factory in Queens in New York. Or you can visit in it film.

Ben Niles, director of "Note by Note," made a documentary film that follows the making of a Steinway grand piano. He says the process can take up to a year. “When I first visited the factory I was so fascinated by what I was seeing...people were just working away like they were in Geppetto’s workshop.”

Building the pianos -- mostly by hand -- is said to give each one a unique sound.

Arnie Ursaner, managing director of CJS securities, says Steinway is to pianos what the Rolls Royce is to cars. A Steinway grand piano can sell for well over $100,000. There are two types of buyers for the pianos, both of whom can be counted on in good times and bad.

First, says Ursaner, the very rich. “He may have a private plane, he may have an estate. If he has an estate, he may very well have, or desire to have, a Steinway piano in his home.”

Then there are professional musicians. Ursaner says the company sells 2,500 pianos, globally, a year. And it’s looking to expand, especially into places like in China.

So kids, take heart. A shot at Carnegie Hall is only 10,000 hours of practice away.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a non-profit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions, or just encouraged you to think differently – we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today - in whatever amount is right for you - and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.