Yuk! First sight of Steinway’s New York showroom

Yuk! First sight of Steinway’s New York showroom


norman lebrecht

March 01, 2016

The Wall Street Journal has published a shot of Annabelle Selldorf’s design for Steinways’ new Sixth Avenue HQ.

steinways ny

That jaundiced operating theatre replaces this:

steinways ny showroom

You decide.


  • alvaro says:

    Ahhh…the good old times when Europe had colonies, enslaved people, robbed natural resources and had enough money to paint the walls with gold. That patrician ‘look’ of the old Steinway hall is evocative of a period that is long gone, and will never ever come back.

    Sorry Norman, and aristoCATS populating this site: your culture is basically obsolete. The new showroom probably has the objective to attract the millionaires that want to get a grand to play Colplay, Alicia Keys or Elton John.

    • RW2013 says:

      Have you ever played a Steinway? Marvelled at evocative architecture? Been to Europe?

    • Anne63 says:

      Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg and Annabelle Selldorf sound a bit ………… European to me.

      If we’re going to be childish about it, perhaps all grand pianos should be returned to Europe, along with Elton John (who could probably afford a gold wall or two), and replaced by something local to N America.

      We have lots of excellent patrician architecture in Europe which, surprisingly, still appears to be highly popular with peasants like me.

    • Mark says:

      Pity that the third-world types like you, Alvaro, couldn’t come up with any culture worthy of the name.

      • Alvaro says:

        Oh! You mean the compositions by Marquez, Villa Lobos and Revueltas that now EVERY orchestra in europe is trying to play in desperation because nobody in your own countries will hear your outdated composers?

        Theres no better win than to see a bunch of American or European ensembles basically suck our %{^}^ because they are so desperate and uncapable they cant figure out how to make people like Beethoven other than to SUCK OUR &/:&;€.

        So, Mark: on your knees.

        (That if you find time to do so during your 120 hr/week finance job. How many “lines” have you done this week?)

        • MSR says:

          ^ Norman, do we really have to put up with this?

          • Alvaro says:

            Simply depicting a practice often used by the “classical” music industry to – hipocritically – use music composed by latin american composers (and conducted by latin american conductors) to try to drive audiences to their institutions. Meanwhile, the true opinion of the despotic a$%|>|> that compose the “conservative” audiences, administrators, and practicioners of the classical music community consider latin american the “third world”, and the composers as lesser.

            Then why use our music? Go ^{}%% ^}^~% then.

            Program only Bruckner, Britten and Elgar, and lets see how many people show up to your sad outreach initiatives.

        • Mark says:

          With apologies to Shakespeare, the beaner doth protest too much, methinks …

  • Paul Pelkonen says:

    Before I kill you Mr.
    Bond…I will play

  • Olassus says:

    I’d go for the jaundiced operating theater. Puts the focus where it belongs, on the pianner.

  • bratschegirl says:

    I think they’re both dreadful, honestly. The old is fussy and looks like a room in Donald Trump’s house; the new is the backdrop of a mobile-friendly website. All that’s missing is the word “Steinway” in a boring sans-serif font, floating in a sea of white space.

    • Olassus says:

      Trump’s jaundiced house … or his, er, white house?

      • bratschegirl says:

        Perish the thought!

        • Max Grimm says:

          When it comes to Americans electing public officials, I think “never say never” is more appropriate rather than “perish the thought”.

          • Dennis says:

            Yes, because electorates in other countries do such an outstanding job of selecting outstanding candidates of great competence and high intellectual and moral standing. Get off your high horse bud. The fact is, democracy always tends toward the lowest common denominator, and electorates everywhere are basically stupid.

          • Max Grimm says:

            No high horse, Dennis. Politicians and officials the world over aren’t perfect (far from it). When it comes to “interesting” backgrounds of some officials and candidates however, the United States ranks toward the top of the charts.

  • Joseph R Olefirowicz says:

    Looks like an abandoned business class lounge. Sad.

  • Dennis says:

    What’s worse than Selldorf’s horrid design is that Steinway executives obviously approved and went along with it. Like many when confronted with ugly modernist drivel in art and architecture, they were probably afraid to voice any objections for fear of being labelled “philistine” or supposedly “not getting it”.

  • Dominic Stafford Uglow says:

    Anybody thought that the room might have been designed so that the pianos are heard to their best advantage?

    Thought not…

  • Eddie Mars says:

    Probably it will look nice when it’s finished.

  • Bruce says:

    I wonder which version has better acoustics.

    • JoeF says:

      I had the honor of playing in the old showroom and the acoustics were superb. It was all stone walls and the ceiling was at least 40 feet tall I’d say.

  • Mark Morrison says:

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but whenever I attended a piano recital at Steinway’s NY showroom, I found the atmosphere to be exceedingly pleasant and the sound excellent. Also, if my mind sometimes wandered, the room’s architecture and decoration were really beautiful to look at.

  • EH says:

    Looks like you’ve decided for us Norman.

  • B.K. says:

    For those complaining about the supposed “period” that the old showroom evokes: Note the new showroom looks like something out of a bad 1970s sci-fi flick. Methinks there’s no point in arguing against Norman on this one.

    • Dennis says:

      It would even go well in some good sci-fi flicks from the 70s. That new Steinway showroom would have fit-in perfectly as a set for “A Clockwork Orange” or Fassbinder’s “World on a Wire.”

    • Saxon Broken says:

      “looks like something out of a bad 1970s sci-fi flick”

      I agree, both look like period design, from different periods. “Modernism” is actually quite dated now.

  • Kate B says:

    Are interiors like that not protected at all? What will happen to it? All into the skip?

    • Eddie Mars says:

      The article in the Wall Street Journal makes it clear that this is not the same space as the former showrooms. The company has moved premises, by fifteen blocks. The fate of the former interiors is not mentioned.

      If the new showrooms looks like a “bad 1970s sci-fi flick”, the old showroom looks like a bad production of Der Rosenkavalier, so there are no winners or losers here. Both are pretty tacky, in their own ways.

      • Holly Golightly says:

        You can’t beat the Steinway showroom in Vienna, on The Ring!! Classy to the max. Minimalist and all about the pianos.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Aliens invade and land at the Steinway showroom!!!

  • Elene says:

    I agree on the “bad 1970s sci-fi flick” look. Maybe they needed to update, but this is just plain ugly, AND it looks dated already.

  • Dave T says:

    Based on the way the thumbnail was laid out, I thought that the “yuk” refereed to, what turns out to be, the old one.

    I was nodding my head in agreement. Imagine my surprise.

  • Erwin Poelstra says:

    To avoid confusion, this is not the concert hall but the room where the “piano bank” will be, as used by pianists to select the instrument of their choice…so it will probably be full of concert grands.
    I think it looks absolutely awful.
    In China, yellow is considered the most beautiful and prestigious color…….

  • Eleanor says:

    Evidence of the new barbarianism. How sad.

  • Robert says:

    I visited the old gorgeous showroom every time I was in New York – it was gorgeous. Staff friendly and one one occaision I was given a huge piece of Mr Steinway’s chocolate Birthday Cake – insisting I had a piece of lid. Many happy memories – but the new one – forget it. Nothing wrong with it that some bad structural defects would put right.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Interestingly, the succession does not show progress but regression from oldfashioned modern to modern outdated. There are now contemporary architects who pick-up classical styles and produce wonderful results (like Hanover Lodge in London): Quinlan and Francis Terry, Dmitri Porphirios, Alan Greenberg, Robert Adam.


    The old Steinway hall was in fact ‘modern’, and the fake seventies modernism very old hat by now. The more architecture tries to be of its time, the quicker it ages.

  • I’m glad my Steinway is quite old but still in excellent condition and I have no intention whatsoever of replacing it, so I shall have nothing to do with that absolutely dreadful new showroom.

  • Carole says:

    I bought my Steinway at the old 57th St. showroom and had the treasured experience of being advised to go from beautiful room to beautiful room, unaccompanied by the salesman, and to play the pianos in each of them. The acoustics were wonderful and I loved every moment of the time spent there. I did this on 4 separate occasions. Ironically, the piano I chose was in the basement, which had no beauty but had some terrific pianos. There are very few places where the buying experience is worth every penny and then some, and the purchase of my “L” at Steinway Hall was one of them. This new venue does NOT get my vote, not that I had one.