The Steinway Model D Benchmark
The Steinway & Sons Model D grand piano is one which signifies an instrument’s grace, power, and delicacy unlike any other. Measuring at 8’11 3/4″ in length, the Model D towers above regular grand pianos, which are usually around 5’6” to 6’ long. Truly the pinnacle of Steinway’s historic dedication to innovation and top shelf craftsmanship, the thousand pound Model D-274 truly is the standard by which other concert pianos are judged against. Decades of craftsmanship and development, signified and represented by one instrument it has long been considered the first choice of concert pianists.
“The Instrument of the Immortals”
The Model D concert piano is the overwhelming choice of professional pianists, universities and concert venues all across the globe. The level of expression possible with these “nine foot” instruments is truly staggering. Over its years of development, a modern concert grand from Steinway & Sons boasts many features and advancements that very early pianists could only dream of. String lengths and tension have increased substantially, hammers have become more dense and heavy, all of this working to create a much more powerful and brilliant sound. As the piano industry pushed toward its golden age, the concert grand piano truly became an instrument that could fill even the largest concert venues with sound. The Model D led the way.
The First Model D | Style 4
The 8’10” Model D was first introduced to the world in 1884. Steinway #51257 was finalized on 1/31/1884. The scale featured a 20-note bass section, designed by C.F. Theodore Steinway. Also known as the Style 4, this model featured an extended capo d’astro bar. In a letter written to Steinway dealers, William Steinway touted the then new Model D’s “…entirely new construction with double cupola steel frame and continuous ring bridge. The improvement in power and sonority of tone is simply marvelous.” This first in the Model D family was the first step toward the modern Steinway concert piano.
Steinway & Sons Continue to Evolve this Piano
In 1892, the ‘new’ Model D began production. The first of this series was Steinway #69932, which was completed on 3/9/1892. Featuring a shorter capo d’astro bar and a scale redesigned by Henry Ziegler, this piano also measured 8’10” in length. In place of the extended capo d’astro bar, this newer design utilized agraffes. This variant was also called the Style 4 until the year 1896.
“Make no compromise in quality.”
Today’s Model D Grand Piano
In the early 1900s, the final stage of Steinway’s Model D development journey began. The length increased throughout the early to mid parts of the 20th century from 8’10” to the year 1914, to 8’11 1/4″ from 1914 to 1965 and finally to 8’11 3/4″ in 1965. During the 1950s, Steinway experimented with Model D Grands with soundboards crafted out of Western Red Cedar. Fred Drasche, head service technician said “those were two of the best Steinway Ds I ever heard.” This ended up being only an experiment for Steinway and they continued utilizing traditional spruce. Production of these mighty concert grands continues regularly at both the New York and Hamburg Steinway factories. Utilized by over 90% of professional pianists, Steinway pianos continue to be the preferred choice around the globe. Out of the seven basic sizes of Steinway Grands, the Model D continues to be the largest.
The Pinnacle of Concert Grand Pianos
When you see a concert piano on a stage, more than likely it will be a Steinway & Sons Model D. There have been a number of very special Model D grand pianos produced for special occasions and locales. The White House has a specially designed and manufactured Model D that is normally placed in the East Room. A Model D has the distinction of being the world’s most expensive piano! “Steinway Alma Tadema” sold for over 1.2 million dollars at Christie’s in 1997.
Today, the Model D continues to stand as the climax of Steinway & Sons piano design. Over 12,000 parts and hundreds upon hundreds of hours of work all make for a true mechanical marvel. But a Steinway grand piano is much more than that. Each piano, especially a Model D allows for the utmost creativity, the greatest amount of artistic expression and truly becomes a vehicle. A vehicle in which the artist and their art, can truly soar. A thousand pound instrument that can roar with might or soften to a delicate whisper. Here at Chupp’s Piano Service we are dedicated to returning these magnificent pieces of art to true, concert level status. We have several select Model D grand pianos in fully rebuilt condition in our showrooms today. They truly are, art you can feel.
For over four decades, Chupp’s Pianos has proudly specialized in the rebuilding and repair of vintage Steinway & Sons pianos. If you have a Steinway Piano that is in need of repair or restoration, please contact usto learn more about our exacting craftsmanship.
Comments are closed