Mr. Henry Z. Steinway was the founding president of the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Making Music. With his charm, wit, integrity, common sense and lifetime of unequaled experience, he played a principle role in laying the foundation of this institution.
Henry Ziegler Steinway was born on August 23, 1915 in New York City. Although one might assume that Henry (who is the great-grandson of Henry Engelhard Steinway, the founder of Steinway & Sons) would have been carefully groomed from an early age to enter the family business, he actually was not. And, as to how it actually happened, Henry himself explains, “I graduated from Harvard College in 1937 with a degree in History. I had no particular talent or interest, but thought ‘maybe my old man will let me start in the piano business.’”
Henry spent the first years of his career as an apprentice in the Steinway factory yard, the machine shop and various other departments. This time spent with skilled workers made a tremendous impact on Henry, and he has often said that working with them taught him more about the piano business than years of extra study could ever have accomplished.
By the time WWII hit, Henry had become factory manager. His career was put on hold in 1942 when he was drafted and assigned to work out of the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corps headquarters on Governor’s Island. It was during this time that he met his wife, Polly Knowlton Zinsser, whom he married in 1944. After the war, Henry returned to the family business and by 1955 had been appointed company president, a position he retained until 1977.
Even after Steinway & Sons was no longer a family-run business, Henry remained active in the company. In fact, until shortly before his passing in 2008, he would board the MTA #31 bus each morning to go to his office at Steinway Hall. Henry Ziegler Steinway left an indelible mark on the piano industry and on the Museum of Making Music. But more importantly, he humbly-—and perhaps unknowingly—touched the lives of innumerable people, thus creating just a bit more harmony in this world.
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