Strich & Zeidler: Two Steinway Employees Who Started Their Own Business

Paul M. Zeidler worked for Steinway (with his father) and had earned a reputation in the trade for his designs throughout his career.

Zeidler’s father and grandfather were piano makers from Braunschweig, Germany where Theodore Steinway was also from. Paul came to New York with his father in 1869, and after completing a course in engineering at the Cooper Institute, he went to work for the Steinway’s in 1876.

While working for Steinway he made a lifelong friend in William Strich. William (b.1863) grew to love the piano at an early age, although forced to learn by his father, who was a well known music teacher. William’s career started in 1881 by working for Steinway. William worked in every department, and in eight short years knew every phase of piano construction and became a master of the craft.

It was at this time in 1887 that his friend Paul Zeidler, decides to go to work for A.B. Chase. After A.B. Chase he also designed pianos for the Bell Piano and Organ Company in Ontario.

But just two years later Paul contacts William, and the two decide to start their own firm in 1889. Their reputation grew quickly because of the high quality of their work, which often featured ornate cabinetry.

It was an unexpected surprise when Strich & Ziedler opened a display at the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Although their reputation had grown, they were still relatively young as a company, and it was a great expense in time and money to display at the Expo.

In 1896 they sue Albert Steinert of Steinert & Sons on charges of slander for $25,000. Steinert was overheard saying this to a piano dealer –

“This piano (Standing next to a Strich & Zeidler piano) is a low grade, cheap piano of the poorest workmanship, made by an unknown concern who are in difficulties now and about to go into bankruptcy. Last week a note of this firm of five hundred dollars went to protest”

This became a famous case in the piano trade. The court case was highlighted by the fact that Strich & Zeidler dismantled one of their pianos in the courtroom, to demonstrate their high quality craftsmanship. This lead to them being vindicated and awarded $5,000 in damages (approximately $125,000 today).

Strich and Zeidler pianos are of the highest quality and are worthy of restoration.

Further Notes:

1915 – They celebrate their 25th anniversary producing pianos.

1916 – The firm incorporates.

1917 – Strich and Zeidler unexpectedly liquidates and closes its doors.

1921 – Willian Strich is hospitalized for a year due to a car accident.

1922 – Zeidler designs pianos for Kohler and Campbell.

1926 – Zeidler designs pianos for Lester, 3 uprights (including the Betsy Ross Spinet) and 6 Grands.

1929 – Paul is featured in a full page article titled “Piano Scale Drafting Now a Matter of Science”, in which he discusses copying, guessing and the advancement of piano scales.