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Johann Andreas Stein (1728-1792) was born in Heidelsheim, Germany, into a family of organ builders. He was apprenticed to Johann Andreas Silbermann (Gottfried Silbermann’s nephew), before founding his own workshop in Augsburg in 1751. There, he built around 700 instruments over the course of forty years. By 1770 he was well-known as an organist, organ- and fortepiano builder – and when Mozart passed through Augsburg in 1777, he and Stein became friends.
Stein’s fortepianos were used to perform Mozart’s Triple Concerto no. 7 K. 242, given on October 22 1777. The three soloists were Mozart, the Augsburg cathedral organist Johann Michael Demmler, and Stein. Mozart was most impressed with the pianos, and wrote to his father: “…but now I much prefer Stein’s instruments, for they damp ever so much better than Spath’s. When I strike hard, I can keep my finger on the note or raise it, but the sound ceases the moment I have produced it. In whatever way I touch the keys, the tone is always even. It never jars, it is never stronger, weaker or entirely absent…they have this special advantage over others that they are made with escapement action. Only one maker in a hundred bothers with this. But without escapement, it is impossible to avoid jangling and vibration after the note is struck…”
After Stein‘s death, his son Matthäus Andreas and his daughter Nanette (Streicher) moved to Vienna, where they continued building pianos to their father’s designs. Streicher instruments were to dominate Viennese piano making until the 1870s.