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The Women of Steinway & Sons
The LaGuardia and Wagner Archives Celebrates Women’s History Month
  • The Women of Steinway & Sons Home
  • Introduction
  • Women and the Beginnings of the Company
  • The Product for Women
  • Women in the Workforce
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The Product for Women

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      The mid-Nineteenth century was a time of a vast increase in the middle-class in the United States as the country grew from a frontier culture and economy to that of a powerful, wealthy and industrial nation. The piano in your house became a sign that you were not part of the working class. In this middle-class milieu, the piano was seen as being particularly important in the education of young ladies:

a piano dominating the parlor served both as a symbol of social respectability and responsibility and as a reminder of the genteel life. Musical life in America was flourishing, and the piano was at the center of this increasing interest in music. It was in the home that most people played and heard piano music. Music in the home was seen as medicine for the soul and stimulant of romance. Most piano pupils were women, other instruments being seen as detracting from feminine attractiveness. The cello demanded that a woman spread her legs, and the harp ruined her posture. But at the piano she could sit demurely with her feet together. By mid-century every young middle-class woman was expected to learn to play the piano; even courtship increasingly took place at the keyboard.1

It was young women who provided the market for companies like Steinway & Sons to make a profit. Though women were the principal consumers, the famous artist were all men.


1 Richard K. Lieberman, Steinway & Sons, (New Haven: Yale, 1995), p.17. Richard K. Lieberman is Director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives.