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About the Author

James Barron is a staff reporter for The New York Times. Over the past twenty-five years, his writing has appeared in virtually every section of the paper and has ranged from breaking coverage of the September 11 attacks and the 2003 New York City blackout to The Gates public art installation in Central Park. An accomplished amateur pianist, he lives in New York City.

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Barron, who's covered everything from 9/11 to Christo's The Gates for the New York Times, takes on the creation of a single Steinway grand. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"This engaging narrative about the preservation of a great tradition by skilled craftsmen is the work of a writer who is quite a skilled craftsman himself. James Barron, an indefatigable reporter, has woven out of his scrupulous research a fascinating story of an all but vanished art, and of the men who created it." --two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert A. Caro"How has Steinway come to be the gold standard for the piano maker's art? In this engaging book, James Barron tells the story, taking us behind the scenes in the New York factory to explore the complex interplay of science, tradition, and skill during the eleven months it takes to build a concert grand. What emerges is a succinct and captivating account of the craft that produces this supremely subtle instrument that dominates the world's concert halls. Fascinating, informative, and fun." --Thad Carhart, author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank"No wonder no two Steinway pianos are exactly the same! No wonder each has its own special character and personality! In telling us in exquisite detail what has gone into the making of one particular instrument, James Barron has created a classic in its own right. Having read the story makes me love my own Steinway all the more." --Charles Osgood

Barron, a New York Times staff writer, expands on his series of articles published in the newspaper for a thoroughgoing chronicle of how a New York immigrant family created an American cultural institution. Barron tracks, from inception to stage, one Steinway concert grand piano named K0862, a direct descendant of the first Model D developed in 1884 by the German family of piano makers established in New York. Heinrich Englehard Steinweg from Seesen, Germany, installed his piano business, now anglicized to Steinway & Sons, on the Lower East Side by 1853, before moving to a factory on Fourth Avenue and eventually to Queens. The original Steinway pianoforte was a compact "square" designed for Victorian parlors, and evolved into a grand that contained longer strings under the lid to "deliver the kind of room-filling sound that earlier pianos lacked." Most fascinating are Barron's descriptions of the old-fashioned handcrafting of K0862 in the Queens factory, from the crucial bending of the maple rim ("the chassis of the piano"), to the fitting of Part No. 81 (the spruce soundboard), cast-iron plate, and action parts, before the piano is tuned for its distinctive sound. In this solid book, Barron pursues the family's fortunes from the company's peak in 1905 through the golden years of 1920s to its sale in 1972. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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