Documentary Photographer Christopher Payne/Benrubi Gallery is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this photo essay.  These images are from his book/project ‘Making Steinway‘ .  To see Christopher’s body of work click on any image.

 

Steinway & Sons Piano Factory, Astoria, New York
CNC Lid Milling Machine

 

Mikael Gregorian Gluing Hammers
Mikael Gregorian
Gluing Hammers

 

Rim Bending Gluing
Rim Bending Gluing

 

Making Steinway

The kind of manufacturing and craftsmanship that happens at One Steinway Place in Astoria, New York, where people transform raw, often messy materials into some of the finest musical instruments in the world, has nearly vanished from the American workplace. This concerns me deeply, not only because I come from a musical family in which such craftsmanship was revered, but because I live in a time when fewer and fewer people make their own music.

 

Steinway & Sons Piano Factory, Astoria, New York
Key Polishing

 

Louis Forero Restoring Victorian Piano Leg
Louis Forero
Restoring Victorian Piano Leg

 

Rim Conditioning Room
Rim Conditioning Room

 

I first toured the Steinway factory in 2002, while still working as an architect, and for many years I kept thinking about what I had seen, given my interest in assembly and appreciation of the built form. After my father and grandmother passed away—both were pianists—my memories of the factory took on a more profound, spiritual importance and I felt an obligation to return to take pictures of the instrument so deeply connected to my family.

 

Steinway Legs and Lyres
Legs and Lyres

 

Rebert Guillaume Piano Stringer
Rebert Guillaume
Piano Stringer

 

Rubbing Tools on Cart
Rubbing Tools on Cart

 

The piano is something we all know and love as a whole; its deceptively simple, iconic form is instantly recognizable. But my photographs look in a different direction: a deconstruction of the piano’s unseen constituent parts and a glimpse into the skilled labor required to make them. While my architectural training helped me to understand how the piano works on a technical level, it remains even more of a mystery to me now than it was before. After spending countless hours photographing the choreographies of production and scrutinizing the parts and pieces that will never be visible outside the factory, I came to realize that a piano is one of the supreme acts of human invention and imagination.

 

SteinwayModel D Soundboard Bridge Press
Model D Soundboard Bridge Press

 

Prenta Ljucovic
Prenta Ljucovic

 

Old Steinway Hall, New York, New York
Old Steinway Hall, New York, New York

 

See also:

Making Steinway 

Book By Christopher Payne/Benrubi Gallery

 


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