Major change of key at Steinway (update)

Major change of key at Steinway (update)


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2011

The major piano manufacturer has parted company with its chief executive, Dana Messina, after 15 years.

No-one’s saying why, but Mr Messina’s walking away with tears in his eyes and a $2.7 million payoff.

It sounds like a personality clash with the new chairman, who comes from Starbucks, a coffee that tastes like cardboard.

Anyone know more than what’s in the latest press release? (UPDATE below)

Steinway CEO Dana Messina Steps Down;
Chairman Michael Sweeney Appointed Interim CEO
For Immediate Release:
WALTHAM, MA - October 24, 2011 - Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. (NYSE:LVB), one of the
world’s leading manufacturers of musical instruments, today announced the resignation of
CEO Dana Messina. Earlier this year, Steinway announced it was evaluating offers for Company assets
and other strategic alternatives. Mr. Messina has agreed to step down as the Company's CEO,
a position he has held since 1996, due to his involvement in developing several of the strategic
alternatives which the Company is considering. He will remain on Steinway’s Board of Directors.
Messina said, “Leading Steinway has been the job of a lifetime and I leave very proud of what we’ve
accomplished over the last 15 years. It was a difficult decision to step down, but I know we have an
extraordinary team of operating managers who will continue to lead this business to further success.
I have no doubt that Steinway’s best days lie ahead.”
Chairman Michael Sweeney will serve as Steinway’s CEO for an interim period. He became a director
of the Company in April 2011 and was appointed Chairman in July. Mr. Sweeney is Chairman of the
Board of Star Tribune Media Holdings. He previously served as the president of Starbucks Coffee
Company (UK) Ltd.

Sweeney commented, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank Dana for his many
years of service to both Steinway & Sons and Conn-Selmer. Today both companies are at the very top
of the musical instrument industry and Dana has played an important role in the achievement of that
success. We wish him well in all of his future endeavors.”
In connection with Mr. Messina’s departure as CEO, the Company will recognize a severance charge
of $2.7 million.
About Steinway Musical Instruments
Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc., through its Steinway and Conn-Selmer divisions, is a global
leader in the design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of high quality musical instruments.
These products include Bach Stradivarius trumpets, Selmer Paris saxophones, C.G. Conn French
horns, Leblanc clarinets, King trombones, Ludwig snare drums and Steinway & Sons pianos. Through
its online music retailer, ArkivMusic, the Company also produces and distributes classical music
recordings. For more information about Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. please visit the Company’s
website at
Contact: Julie A. Theriault
Telephone: 781-894-9770

UPDATE: It looks like Messina’s departure follows on from his failed attempt with the previous chairman to buy out part of the business earlier this year. Here’s an MMR story from July 6:


Steinway Musical Instruments, Inc. announced that chairman Kyle Kirkland, CEO Dana Messina, Conn-Selmer president John Stoner, and certain members of management made an unsolicited proposal to acquire the Company’s band instrument and online music divisions. In connection with the proposal, Kirkland has agreed to step down as the Company’s chairman, a position he has held since 1995.

The board has appointed a Special Committee to consider this proposal and strategic alternatives. In addition, the board has appointed Michael Sweeney, one of the Company’s independent directors, to the position of chairman. Sweeney is currently chairman of the board of Star Tribune Media Holdings and previously served as the president of Starbucks Coffee Company (UK) Ltd.


  • Michael P Scott says:

    I do believe that’s MR Messina, not Ms.

  • Richard Hertz says:

    and what does the taste of starbucks have to do with anything?

    don’t get angry with companies just because they are as profitable as steinway wishes it could be.

    • Denis Mora says:

      A person who has been working for Starbucks- a company thriving on mediocrity and mass consumption without any taste for quality can’t have anything to do with the refined part of the society- top level artists and music lovers and to know how to deal with the very fine nature of Steunway. This two things doesn’t go together. And yes, the coffee of starbucks do taste like cardboard- what it has to do with the subject well the answer is easy-a bad product is on the market.

  • Hank says:

    Who cares? Steinway pianos have sucked for the last 30+ years.

    • san french says:

      You’re right as rain Hank. Give me a teens or 20’s L or D (even an M) any day of the week. They’re floating on a name only now. Such a shame.

  • David kish says:

    Former CEO Dana Messina and former chairman of the board Kyle Kirkland of Steinway, both understudies of the famous corporate criminal Michael Milken resigned so they could both collect murti million dollar severance packages along with the more than double value of their stock which ran into many more million so they could by back 1/2 OF THE COMPANY,,
    CONN SELMER THE band division at a under valued price with the shareholders own money. They resigned to appear not to have more of a conflict of interest with their high level positions and acquire the band division again with junk money like they did when they bought selmer .Their job of finding alternative strategies consist of planning how to swindle shareholders out of more money.