Johann Andreas Stein

Johann Andreas Stein was born the son of an organ maker on May, 6, 1728 in Heidelsheim/Baden.  For several years he traveled and trained. One very important journey was to Strasbourg where he worked for Johannes Andreas Silbermann, who had taken over his uncle’s, Gottfried Silbermann,’s organ and piano workshop. In 1750 Stein finally settled in Augsburg, a lively city in terms of both its music and economy.

He became very busy, because at that time he was the only organ maker in town, and he was asked to repair organs of Protestant churches including Heilig Kreuz, St. Jakob and St. Ulrich.  He built a new organ for Barfuesserkirche, which was first played at Whitsuntide 1757, but was unfortunately destroyed during World War II. Stein had developed a good reputation and became a famous citizen in Augsburg.  At the same time, he became a successful piano maker and honed the art of making pianofortes.

Around 700 pianos were built in his workshop and sold all over Europe. He was a member of “Collegium Musicale” and a long-time friend of the fellow Augsburgian family, the Mozarts, who had moved to Salzburg.  It was when staying in Augsburg from June22-July6,1763, together with his child prodigy, father Leopold Mozart purchased a travel piano at Stein’s workshop, which his son Wolfgang Amadeus played for several years.  At that time, Stein’s workshop was located next to the river Lech, but later moved to the more prestigious Maximilianstrasse.  In October 1777, when Wolfgang Amadeus stayed in Augsburg, he and Stein became close friends.  During a concert in the big hall of the Fugger House on October 22, three pianofortes built by Stein were played, and Stein even performed on one of them himself.

After Stein’s death in 1792, his children Nanette Stein Streicher and Mattaeus Andreas moved the workshop to Vienna.  There Nanette became Beethoven’s admirer and in several moving letters, Beethoven wrote how much he adored her.  There are only a few pianofortes still in existence, one of them being on display at the Mozart Memorial Place.