All Steinway at Gustavus Posted on September 1st, 2009 by

Music Department Chair David Fienen with faculty pianists and some piano students. (Photo by Tom Roster)

Music Department Chair David Fienen with faculty pianists and some piano students. (Photo by Tom Roster)

Robb Murray
The Free Press

Trust them. This is a big deal.

Steinway and Sons, makers of what most serious musicians would say are the world’s best pianos, has put Gustavus Adolphus College on its “All Steinway Schools” list.

The list is an exclusive one. Just 66 colleges, universities or conservatories around the world have made the list. Of those 66, four are in Minnesota. Only one is in southern Minnesota.

“This says — and it’s a corny phrase — that we care enough to buy the very best,” said David Fienen of Gustavus’ music department. “It means we have provided top quality instruments for our students for practice, for study, and for performance.”

To be considered for the Steinway designation, a school must first have at least 90 percent of its pianos be Steinways — which are completely handmade and can run upwards of $140,000 — or be of Steinway design.

Getting to that threshold has been an ongoing process for Gustavus, and it began in 1998 after the St. Peter tornado wiped out 16 pianos, including the recital piano in the Bjorling Recital Hall.

Through a combination of insurance money, donations and trade-ins, Gustavus was able to replenish its piano inventory with all Steinways.

“That enabled us to get within striking distance of being an All Steinway School,” Fienen said. Today, the campus has 35 Steinway and Boston pianos (Boston is an acceptable subsidiary of Steinway.)

This week, another Steinway was delivered and placed in the President’s House on campus. That piano was a gift from alumnus Linda Keefe, class of 1969, and a member of the college’s board of trustees. She and her husband have established an endowed scholarship for choral music students at Gustavus.

“Our commitment is true not just with piano, but with other instruments, as well,” Fienen said. “We really endeavor to have first-rate instruments for all our students.”

Other Minnesota schools with the Steinway designation include the University of Minnesota, Bemidji State University and Concordia College in St. Paul. Also on the list are The Julliard School, Oberlin College Conservatory, Yale School of Music and Vassar College.


Comments are closed.