Above: Steinway & Sons piano; Steinway News magazine 1977 cover featuring Van Cliburn at the Schmitt Music mural; Schmitt Music 3rd-generation President, Robert P. Schmitt with a customer playing a Steinway.
Schmitt Music is celebrating sixty years representing Steinway & Sons pianos!
Since June 18, 1961, Steinway has chosen Schmitt Music to be its exclusive authorized dealer for Steinway & Sons pianos. This year marks Steinway’s 168th Anniversary – making the world’s finest pianos since 1853!
“There’s nothing else like it and no other piano should even be mentioned in the same breath.” – Tom Schmitt, president, Schmitt Music
Steinway is an iconic brand and an indelible piece of American musical history. Since 1853, Steinway & Sons has built the pianos by which all others are judged. Back in 2016, in honor of Schmitt Music’s 55th Anniversary as a Steinway dealer, Tom Schmitt shared some thoughts about the company’s relationship with Steinway. Here’s the letter Tom shared with employees:
Today (6/18/16) marks the 55th anniversary of our appointment as a Steinway dealer. Even though I was just a little kid at the time I can remember some of the circumstances because Henry and Polly Steinway came out to Minneapolis to make it official and to have a little celebration, and dad invited them to join us for dinner and a ride on our houseboat.
We didn’t have a cabin or a summer home or anything like that, but my mom, sisters, Doug and I spent most of the summer living on a houseboat on the St. Croix River while dad commuted into the office every day. It was pretty small and crowded and so it was sort of a big deal to have guests for Dinty Moore beef stew, a cruise down the river and to join in as dad led us through some of his favorite tunes, like “Shine on Harvest Moon” and “Up the Lazy River”, singing and accompanying himself on the baritone ukulele. Although Henry Steinway was a very down-to-earth person, he was a sophisticated Manhattanite and he must have thought he was teaming up with the Minnesota version of the Beverly Hillbillies!
That evening marked the beginning of an incredible partnership between our two companies and an enduring friendship with generations of the Steinway family and leadership team. In the decades to follow, with Steinway as our leading brand, our company became one of the largest and most awarded piano dealers in the industry. And Steinway emerged as one of the most respected and widely recognized brands in the world, instantly connected with the highest and most uncompromising levels of quality, performance, durability and artistic expression. Did you know that every year, year after year, over 98% of all piano concerts performed with major symphony orchestras all over the world are played exclusively on Steinway pianos? That’s because the finest pianists in the world know they can only play their best and be all they can be – artistically – on a Steinway. There’s nothing else like it and no other piano should even be mentioned in the same breath.
Henry Z. Steinway, former president of Steinway & Sons, photographed in 2004 with Tom Schmitt, president of Schmitt Music. Henry was the great-grandson of Steinway founder, Henry E. Steinway, and Tom is the great-grandson of Schmitt Music founder, Paul A. Schmitt.
Meeting Henry and Polly for the first time made a lasting impression on me, but what I remember most about that evening was dad’s excitement. One of his most important contributions when he returned to the company after serving in WW2 and Korea was to lead us into the piano business. And to finally be appointed as the Steinway dealer in our service area – a goal of his from the very beginning – was affirmation from the leading company in the industry that we were on the right track. That they wanted to be our partners for the future meant the world to dad and his team – and to the whole company really. He was stoked!
Steinway has undoubtedly been our most important supplier for all these years and with their new ownership, new leadership team and dynamic new products, the company is doing better than ever all over the world. We’re grateful for the last 55 years with Steinway – it’s been a great run – and we look forward to the next 55 with the same anticipation and excitement that dad had all those years ago.
Click here to learn more about Steinway pianos at Schmitt Music.