Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage

Posted by: Larry Buck

Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 11:03 AM

http://www.ejbuckpiano.com/For%20Sale.html

I know this may feel like just more "Shameless Self Promotion".

None the less, I am curious to hear thoughts on the film footage here.

I don't see to much historical piano footage. The beginning has a rather long seemingly unrelated part ... I am sure it is related. We are waiting for some English dubbing.

It does get to some very interesting factory footage.

Larry
Posted by: BDB

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 12:33 PM

It is interesting. I have never heard of Weissbrod pianos. Perhaps they started making whole wheat and became Brodmann.
Posted by: Withindale

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 12:59 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
It is interesting. I have never heard of Weissbrod pianos. Perhaps they started making whole wheat and became Brodmann.


Highly regarded, see: http://www.klanggestaltung-klavier-fluegel-stimmen.de/content/view/5/4/
Posted by: Supply

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 03:49 PM

The piano in the article referenced was well regarded by the person who rebuilt it and wrote the article, so draw your own conclusions... Indeed, the piano looks well designed and crafted, and I am sure it is respectable. But Weissbrod remains a fairly obscure maker.

Wilh. Steinberg, as I understand it came into being in 1993, born out of the former East German Eisenberg piano and furniture cooperative. * I don't think Steinberg had anything to do with the filming of the footage in the 1920s, as the web page states.

After a looooong intro, there is actually some neat footage of factory production work. What a cramped, loud and dangerous place it must have been to work in a piano factory 90 years ago. The "frazing" of the piano backs and rims is still done the same way in many factories today. It is a bit of a scary thing to watch a 12" tall shaper spindle rip into the overhanging edge of a piano frame.
Thanks for the link Larry.
* [Edit: did some more research and added that info in a post below]
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 04:09 PM

You are welcome Jurgen.

I was handed that video by Mr. Steffes while I was in Germany last March.

I was under the impression Wilh. Steinberg has been around for a long time. After hearing your comment Jurgen, I will ask Brian Gatchel and Mr. Steffes and post the answer I get.

It is neat footage ... Imagine the Safety concerns TODAY ??? Things have changed tremendously.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 04:15 PM

Steinberg was only one of several "Saechsische Klavierhersteller" [state of Saxony] all of which had excelled at their craft for very long time.

Today,Bluthner and August Foerster from same area remain the perhaps most prominent.
And "most expensive"...

Steinberg IMHO has arguably become one of the most innovative, or "adaptive" if you will.

It's amazing when you read the link how often the ideal of "great sound" is being mentioned. It must have been on the mind of these historic makers every single day of their working life.

Similar to my own take on pianos, "sound" is really what it's all about: it's the net result of everything else happening.

Today I sometimes get the feeling we are talking about everything "except" sound......

During my last visit to Germany one particular 48" Steinberg upright at a Steinway dealer's showroom was one of the best I ever played.

Good job Fred: keep up the good work!

Norbert thumb
Posted by: Supply

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 04:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Steinberg was only one of several "Saechsische Klavierhersteller" [state of Saxony] all of which had excelled at their craft for very long time.
Uhm,..., sorry,..., no.
While Saxony was and is still a major center of musical instrument making (Blüthner in Leipzig, Förster in Löbau etc), Steinberg and Eisenberg are in the neighboring Free State of Thuringia. If you went there and called them Saxons you might not escape alive....
Posted by: turandot

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 05:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Larry Buck


It is neat footage ... Imagine the Safety concerns TODAY ??? Things have changed tremendously.


That was my thought as I watched. From a resource management, environmental health and safety, and general working conditions point of view, it's a cram course in no-no's. The worker footage brings to mind Chaplin's satire Modern Times.

Also the pace of the workers was alarming. I suppose they could have sped up the film to show German efficiency, but the white coats and grey suits in the same frames move slowly, so I don't know. grin

Anyway, not a good promo for meticulous craftsmanship, more like a high-volume production plant under pressure. So don't worry about self-promotion unless you were one of the white coats.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 06:10 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Originally Posted By: Larry Buck


It is neat footage ... Imagine the Safety concerns TODAY ??? Things have changed tremendously.


That was my thought as I watched. From a resource management, environmental health and safety, and general working conditions point of view, it's a cram course in no-no's. The worker footage brings to mind Chaplin's satire Modern Times.

Also the pace of the workers was alarming. I suppose they could have sped up the film to show German efficiency, but the white coats and grey suits in the same frames move slowly, so I don't know. grin

Anyway, not a good promo for meticulous craftsmanship, more like a high-volume production plant under pressure. So don't worry about self-promotion unless you were one of the white coats.


My money is on the film having been sped up.

The "white coats" would have tended to move far more slowly in a factory setting.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 07:53 PM

Many companies have long histories but often it doesn't really apply to modern times.

Steinberg not being the only one..

IMHO it is still of at least anecdotal value and may explain how the makers of the world developed over time.

Thinking a little 'self promotion' based on simple historical facts can never hurt especially with a make lesser known, less threatening than many others.

In this context I would like to see a similar documentation by those big oriental pianos who often claim having an active piano making history for over 100 years.

Wondering what their production methods looked like then, their factories of production, their speed and care of production then and of course - ahem - their "factory coats". wink

In fact, it would be nice to know who exactly their customers were some 100 years ago and the prevailing musical culture at that time.

Perhaps those more versed in historical piano making facts than me can help out a bit.

Yes, "Thuringia" Juergen, better sausages there too....

[guess can't go to Saxony now without endangering life...]

Norbert wink
Posted by: Supply

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 08:59 PM

My original mentor was a consultant to Chinese piano factories in the 1970s and early 1980s. The stories he told made 1920s European factory "environmental health and safety, and general working conditions" look really, really good. No doubt much has changed for the betterment of workers (and therefore product) in recent times.

Norbert - yes those Thuringer Bratwurst, grilled over a bed of smoldering pine cones - now that is something worth endangering your life to get at....
Posted by: Cy Shuster, RPT

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 09:04 PM

In the section where they're first assembling upright soundboards onto the back frame, in the background a worker appears to be drilling holes using a device like Boy Scouts use to start fires: a bow with a string moving back and forth to
turn the bit!

Fascinating to see the huge logs being peeled into veneer or cut into flitches. The big belt-driven pinblock drill was pretty cool, too.

--Cy--
Posted by: turandot

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 09:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Many companies have long histories but often it doesn't really apply to modern times.


In this context I would like to see a similar documentation by those big oriental pianos who often claim having an active piano making history for over 100 years.

Wondering what their production methods looked like then, their factories of production, their speed and care of production then and of course - ahem - their "factory coats". wink



Norbet,

I think you probably know that Yamaha piano production didn't really get going on a significant scale until after WW2 when Yamaha sold stock for the first time and opened the Yamaha Music Schools that ultimately became their own best customers. As my wife's great uncle explained it to me...when Japan was defeated in WW2 and people realized that their emperor was a human being and not a divine being, the whole of Japanese society decided that they needed to become responsible for their own destiny and that they should learn from those who defeated them.

So yeah, the early history of Yamaha is probably less impressive than Steinberg's if that's what you're hinting, and if Yamaha has any factory footage in the vault from the 1920's, they don't share it. In terms of what the pianos looked like, this may help a little.

http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/piano/histry/content/content01.html

You'll notice there is no 'coat' among the photos. BTW, I wasn't making fun of the important role of assembly line inspectors. It's just that in Larry's link what with the laborers working at breakneck speed, the 'coats' look more like sweatshop overseers.

Larry,

Do you happen to know Steinberg's peak production years? (An awful lot of lumber stacked at the mill in the clip)
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 09:23 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Many companies have long histories but often it doesn't really apply to modern times.


In this context I would like to see a similar documentation by those big oriental pianos who often claim having an active piano making history for over 100 years.

Wondering what their production methods looked like then, their factories of production, their speed and care of production then and of course - ahem - their "factory coats". wink



Norbet,

I think you probably know that Yamaha piano production didn't really get going on a significant scale until after WW2 when Yamaha sold stock for the first time and opened the Yamaha Music Schools that ultimately became their own best customers. As my wife's great uncle explained it to me...when Japan was defeated in WW2 and people realized that their emperor was a human being and not a divine being, the whole of Japanese society decided that they needed to become responsible for their own destiny and that they should learn from those who defeated them.

So yeah, the early history of Yamaha is probably less impressive than Steinberg's if that's what you're hinting, and if Yamaha has any factory footage in the vault from the 1920's, they don't share it. In terms of what the pianos looked like, this may help a little.

http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/piano/histry/content/content01.html

You'll notice there is no 'coat' among the photos. BTW, I wasn't making fun of the important role of assembly line inspectors. It's just that in Larry's link what with the laborers working at breakneck speed, the 'coats' look more like sweatshop overseers.

Larry,

Do you happen to know Steinberg's peak production years? (An awful lot of lumber stacked at the mill in the clip)



During my visit last March, I think I was told it was 6,000 to 8,000 pianos/year.

The factory in Eisenberg and it's equipment looks as though it would support that.

I would like to ask that question again. If I am able, I'll post the answer I get.
Posted by: msks

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 10:25 PM

That was interesting. I am sure you have also seen the Bechstein films? ( On their website)

Does anyone have info on the finishes they were using?
Posted by: Supply

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 11:20 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Do you happen to know Steinberg's peak production years? (An awful lot of lumber stacked at the mill in the clip)
According to the German Piano Atlas, Steinberg only commenced production under that name in 1993, but another source mentions the company being established in 1877. If production numbers in early years had been significant, there would still be a good number of these pianos around and they would be listed in the Atlas.

After 1945, (according to the second source) the company faded due to isolation but the name was eventually revived and applied to the piano manufacturing company that came out of the East German regional piano conglomerate in Eisenberg after German re-unification.
From 1993 to 2008 the serial numbers of their verticals went up by about 13,000 all told. I am quite sure the production is less than 1000 per year. Total German production is around 11,000 per year.

I got the impression that there was a lot of footage in the film that was not necessarily part of the Weissbrod piano company. Just as the logging and lumber transport was not part of the company, it seems reasonable that other cuts such as the the lumber yards or veneer slicing may not have been "in shop". At least I would not speculate on production numbers based on any of that footage.
Posted by: PaintedPostDave

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/23/12 11:55 PM

Is anyone else having trouble getting the video to run more than a few seconds? mad
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/24/12 12:16 AM

I am getting ready to put up a version that should run smoother.

Keep in mind I am a piano technician pretending to know how to work a web authoring program such as Dreamweaver and Flash Pro.

It ain't pretty ...
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/24/12 12:53 AM

OK, this is compressed a bit and should run more smoothly. PaintedPostDave ... let me know if it runs more smoothly for you.

Larry
Posted by: turandot

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/24/12 02:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Larry Buck
OK, this is compressed a bit and should run more smoothly. PaintedPostDave ... let me know if it runs more smoothly for you.

Larry


I let it run again and checked intermittently. The image seemed cleaner. I don't know if it was smoother. That wasn't a problem when I watched it. Next you should go for 3D and THX. smile

It's an interesting clip, but as a Steinberg promo on your own website, I'd edit out everything up to the footage that shows actual piano production...save maybe a still of the map that shows Eisenberg's location.

The intro is too long and generic to sustain interest and the workplace footage at the mill is too ghastly from a health and safety perspective to be effective stimulating interest in pianos. Just one opinion of course.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/24/12 02:35 PM

I think that this was taken off a broadcast, and it seems to be missing a reel.
Posted by: Larry Buck

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/24/12 02:41 PM

Originally Posted By: turandot
Originally Posted By: Larry Buck
OK, this is compressed a bit and should run more smoothly. PaintedPostDave ... let me know if it runs more smoothly for you.

Larry


I let it run again and checked intermittently. The image seemed cleaner. I don't know if it was smoother. That wasn't a problem when I watched it. Next you should go for 3D and THX. smile

It's an interesting clip, but as a Steinberg promo on your own website, I'd edit out everything up to the footage that shows actual piano production...save maybe a still of the map that shows Eisenberg's location.

The intro is too long and generic to sustain interest and the workplace footage at the mill is too ghastly from a health and safety perspective to be effective stimulating interest in pianos. Just one opinion of course.


Thank You, this is my feeling as well. Hopefully we are having some conversation with Mr Steffes in the next couple of days on exactly this point. I can ask him about the other questions as well.

To everyone, thank you. I am learning quite a bit from your comments.
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/25/12 09:37 PM

Can someone tell me what city is shown in the first part...is that Dresden?
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/25/12 09:45 PM

I have visited Eisenberg and been the recipient of the hospitality of the Company Steinberg (isn't Frecderick's house shown in the video?).

I also have a client with a Steinberg labeled piano from the 1960's (showing clear signs of Soviet era Eastern European manufacturing)

My understanding is that the Steinberg brand has existed for some time (longer than the formation of the current company) and that piano building in Eisenberg has also existed in one form or another for a long time.

There is a piano building tradition there and Herr Steffes and his group, including a very influential American, is resurrecting it in a modern form.

Hats off to them!
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/26/12 01:19 AM

Quote:
Hats off to them!


They never wear hats in that part of Germany anyways...

Norbert wink
Posted by: BoseEric

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/26/12 06:29 AM

Exactly my point!
Posted by: lluiscl

Re: Very Old WIlh. Steinberg Piano Historical Film Footage - 11/26/12 06:38 AM

Steinberg named piano history is complex
http://www.piano-tuners.org/piano-forums...rg+piano#p36052
I restored one grand from the '20s (made in Berlin)and is a remarkable instrument.