In The Steinway Hunter Robert Friedman tells of his life buying, restoring, and selling Steinway pianos. And, to anyone interested in “the king of instruments”, this is a fascinating, compelling, humourous, and at times emotional read.
As the cover notes explain, Friedman is “part treasure hunter, part problem solver and part keen observer of human nature”. Here you will discover how the author became known as the “The Steinway Hunter”, and, more importantly, why a piano is more than just an object to be bought and sold.
Robert (Bob) Friedman has dedicated his life to the Steinway, and in true autobiographical fashion, he starts by recalling his early life and thence how he entered the world of keyboard instruments.
Subsequently, we learn that Friedman was buying and selling all makes of piano around New York in the early 1970s. But with a glut in the market of most makes, he was told by old-time piano man, friend and mentor Henry Kerren to, “Stop dealing with other brands and just stick to Steinway… It’s the only way you’ll make enough money to support yourself in the piano business”.
This life-changing advice was taken.
He focused his business on buying, restoring and selling Steinways. Friedman discovered that the most effective way of tracking down potential sellers was through simple classified advertisements. He placed these ads in local papers right across America…
These generated many leads, resulting in Friedman taking countless journeys across America on buying trips. And each trip was a journey into the unknown.
The Steinways and their stories
Every Steinway has a tale to tell, and the book recounts many of the fascinating stories surrounding the pianos Friedman encountered over the years. Steinways are the cream of the crop, and those wishing to sell usually have an interesting past.
Most of the instruments Friedman describes are older Steinways and often in need of restoration. Steinway was founded in 1853, and has produced over half a million pianos. In former years Friedman had learnt much about piano restoration and so wasn’t phased when confronted with “a wreck”.
Each piano is given its own chapter in the book, which makes for easy, relaxed reading. Friedman throws in many facts and details about Steinway pianos, but he does so in such a way that they’re part of the story. One is never overwhelmed with gratuitous detail, yet when one has finished the book one knows a lot more about these instruments.
A Steinway piano is made to last, not to throw away but to be restored. It’s one of the best musical instruments ever designed, and can probably go on for five hundred years.Robert Friedman
This book is a very positive work. Friedman’s stories are mostly uplifting and positive. The “hunt” is often as interesting a part of the story as that of the instrument. Friedman has obviously worked hard at his craft, but never goes down the “quick buck” route. He appears to care not only for the pianos, but also for his clients, be they buyer or seller, and also for fellow craftsmen in the industry.
It would have been fascinating to discover a bit more about the financial side of the buying and selling. Figures are never revealed, which in some cases is a pity, but of course understandable.
This is a fairly short, easy to read book. Recommended.
The Steinway Hunter — A Memoir by Robert Friedman with Ronnie Rosenberg-Friedman
Publisher: Epigraph Publishing
Hardcover: 160 pages
Dimensionsions: 15.2 x 1.3 x 22.9 cms
The Steinway Hunter was first published in November 2019, so it is not a “new release” per se. However, as we failed to cover the book’s initial launch, we felt we should now run an item on the work as it should be of interest to most of our regualr readers.
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