Baldwin had its roots in the 19th century and became the #1 selling piano in the United States in the 20th century. Dwight Hamilton Baldwin started the company as a retail store. In fact, they were a Steinway dealership! The story is that Steinway had a relative who wanted to open a store in Cincinnati where Baldwin operated. When Baldwin lost the franchise, they began producing pianos. Very soon they won prestigious international awards which catapulted them into the concert arena. During WWII Baldwin manufactured wooden bracing for aircraft. The technology they developed was utilized in the incredibly strong pin block design they employed in their pianos after the war.
Baldwin went on to become a formidable force in the concert market with some of the most notable musicians of the 20th century and beyond choosing Baldwin pianos including: Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Earl Wild, Liberace, Dave Brubeck and Bruce Hornsby to name just a few. Baldwin acquired the great German piano manufacturer Bechstein in the 1960’s. Together they introduced the SD-10 concert grand piano in 1966 which was heralded as one of the great advancements in piano design in the 20th century. Eventually all the Baldwin grand pianos were redesigned with Bechstein.
Baldwin became a diverse financial multi-billion dollar company later in the 20th century. In 1984 they suffered a bankruptcy. The management team of Baldwin Piano Company bought Baldwin from the huge financial company and continued making top tier pianos. Eventually the competition of cheap Asian pianos took its toll and Baldwin suffered another bankruptcy in the early 2000s. Gibson guitar bought them and soon closed American operations. They bought 2 huge Chinese piano manufacturers and are importing pianos from them and putting the Baldwin name on them. However, word has it that the American factory is still operational. So, one day we may again enjoy new Baldwin pianos, some of the greatest pianos in the world being produced in the United States.
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