Walt ‘Whitman first delivered the "Death of Lincoln" lecture at Steck Hall in New York on April 14, 1879, [ to an audience of 60 to 80 people ] to reflect upon the meaning of Lincoln's death to an American nation pressed to reunite and heal from the wounds of the Civil War.’ The evening began with a musical performance, proceeded by prose, and ended with the famous mourning poem to the president, “O Captain! My Captain!” Library of Congress
George Steck was born on July 13, 1829 in Hesse Cassel, Germany. A “piano maker of the old school,” he honed his skills while as an apprentice under Carl Scheel (1813 – 1892), an enterprising man who had once worked for the prestigious French piano manufacturer Sébastian Érard (1752 – 1831) between 1837-1846. Scheel, who also hailed from Cassel, left Érard in 1846 to start his own company.
During this time, Steck harnessed every opportunity to study piano manufacturing; his natural talents were well disposed to the instrument, showing an early mechanical genius and expert scale draftsmanship.
The Ritmüller pianos excel in every individual part of their construction, and leave absolutely nothing to be desired. There is no doubt that the firm of W. Ritmuller & Sohn will soon take up the foremost position amongst the German makers, a position which is due to their excellent manufacture, and which no connoisseur will venture to deny them. Dr. Hans von Bülow, Conductor, Virtuoso Pianist, and Composer
For a company known to be one of the first manufacturers of pianos in Göttingen, Germany, there is a dearth of public records regarding its lineage. What is notable must be culled from accounts in old German history annals, scraps of counterfactual entries in books on piano makers, and the like—which points to a rich, as yet undiscovered narrative. What we can gather, like most piano origins, is quite fascinating.
Renown for its great composers and musicians, Vienna grew to prominence in the early days of the Classical Period (1750 to 1830), attracting the likes of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, to name only a few.
Through sheets of rain, faint percussive sounds echo from the right. Though anxious, she follows the sound. She walks at a quick pace while the scenery passes slowly. She enters a corridor full of niches. One by one in an endless procession. Figures move about, in and out. The kaleidoscopic geometric pattern converges to form a solitary monk. A large owl sits upon his shoulder. The owl has unusually large talons and the face of Van Cliburn.
The European piano-building tradition goes back hundreds of years, with more historical territory and context than any other region can claim. This explains why so many discussions about pianos often focus on European methods and brands, and to what degree this lineage is preserved. In fact, the modern piano inherits centuries of keyboard innovations, a prolific evolution advanced by the confluence of extraordinary composers, performers, and piano builders—all laboring to extend the sound and range of the instrument.