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Steinway Hall is closing...

posted Jan 14, 2015, 6:23 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 14, 2015, 6:23 AM ]
New York City will soon say goodbye to another historic building. After almost 90 years on 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall, the famous piano showroom, will be torn down to build high-rise luxury condominiums.

Only the first floor, which was designated a landmark in 2001, will be preserved. When it was built in 1925, the architects — who also designed Grand Central Terminal — created a large curved window to allow pedestrians to look inside. "And that was quite high-tech at the time," says the president of Steinway & Sons for the Americas, "because when anybody was walking down 57th Street, when they looked in the window, there was never any glare and they could see every piano as beautifully as if they were standing right in front of it."

When you walk inside, you’re greeted by a grand Beaux Arts rotunda with a crystal chandelier, imported Italian marble and frescoes on the ceiling. Portraits and busts are everywhere, including pianists Anton Rubinstein, Franz Liszt and, most recently, "Mr. Billy Joel."

More than 150 pianos fill three floors of elegant showrooms covered in wood paneling for better acoustics. But the real action is downstairs, in a room known as The Basement. Here is an exclusive collection of concert grand pianos, maintained for live concerts and studio recordings by the most famous performing artists. This is where Sergei Rachmaninoff met Vladimir Horowitz for the very first time, prior to their notable 1928 duo piano recital.

The new Steinway Hall will open next year, about 12 blocks south at 1133 Sixth Avenue. It claims it will be a state-of-the-art facility, with a concert hall and recording studio — and an entirely new Basement. But if you get a chance, stop in and see the old hall one last time...