piano

One of the world's oldest and most iconic piano makers, Pleyel, will close its factory doors in Paris at the end of 2013.

The French press characterized the bankruptcy as inevitable in the face of cheaper competition from China. But many disagree: They say Pleyel could have survived by adapting better to the times.

For 160 years, the pianos made by Steinway & Sons have been considered the finest in the world. So when hedge fund billionaire John Paulson recently bought the company, it struck fear in the hearts of musicians: Would the famously handcrafted pianos be changed, for the sake of efficiency? Paulson, who owns several Steinways himself, says nothing will change.

Courtesy Fernando Herrera

On November 21, 1963, in Houston, Texas, President John F.Kennedy and his wife Jackie, along with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, were entertained by San Antonio musicians. Fernando Herrera and other musicians gave the distinguished visitors a taste of Texas at the Crystal Ballroom in the Rice Hotel.

Herrera remembers the night well, and he had a great deal of interchange with the president himself.

"Much to my surprise, Kennedy was familiar with all the music because those Kennedys traveled all over the world. He knew my outfit," Herrera said.

The Steinway piano company has a new owner. This fall, the investment firm Paulson & Co. — led by billionaire John Paulson — spent about $500 million and bought all of Steinway & Sons, the venerated piano maker.

The deal includes a foundry in Springfield, Ohio, where the Steinway pianos are born in fire.

The O.S. Kelly Foundry has been making Steinway's plates since 1938. The plate is the cast-iron heart of a piano: It holds the steel wire strings with 40,000 pounds of tension, the company says. It allows vibrations to arise in a concert hall as music.

San Antonio Symphony

This week’s San Antonio Symphony performance at the Majestic Theater features the second Sergei Rachmaninoff piece of the new symphony season, Piano Concerto No. 2.

"At least in the top five of the most famous of piano concertos, or the most popular ever written," Lang-Lessing said.

The featured soloist is a highly regarded pianist originally from the Philippines.

"We are very, very lucky to have the wonderful Cecile Licad playing with us this weekend, and she’s really a wonderful artist," Lang-Lessing said.

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