The Fifty-Year Friendship between Beethoven and Nannette Streicher, Who Built His Pianos
Strings quivered. Notes shimmered. Meet best friends acclaimed composer Ludwig van Beethoven and bold female entrepreneur Nannette Streicher in this lively and lyrical nonfiction picture book.
In a tall, narrow building on a wide avenue
pianos plinked and plunked day and night.
Everyone in quiet Augsburg knew the Stein home.
In 1787, aspiring yet unknown composer Ludwig van Beethoven arrives at young Nannette Stein’s home. What follows is a decades-long friendship that persists whether life hits a low or high note. Acclaimed nonfiction writer Laurie Lawlor deftly depicts how these two fascinating friends—a composer with hearing loss and a woman who became an innovative piano maker in a time that discouraged female entrepreneurship—fought the odds and worked together in perfect harmony.
The author of picture book biography Fearless World Traveler, Lawlor masterfully uses forgotten historical letters, a glossary, and rich back matter on both friends’ lives and art to introduce readers to the man behind the music, from his loud laughter to his crushing handshake.
Awards and Recognition
- Artwork accepted into the Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators
Reviews and Comments
“A little-known piano builder had a great impact on Beethoven.
“Who hasn’t heard of Ludwig van Beethoven? By contrast, far fewer know of Nannette Stein Streicher (1769–1833), the German piano builder and proprietor of a successful Viennese piano-construction enterprise and also Beethoven’s lifelong “Beloved Friend.” Well educated and musically gifted, Nannette became involved in her father’s successful piano-building business from an early age. At 18, Nannette met Ludwig, 17, when he visited her home and played for her family. They became fast friends despite their differing personalities and backgrounds. When her father died, Nannette and a younger brother jointly took over her father’s company, since the law forbade a woman to own a company outright. Upon her marriage, Nannette moved the company to Vienna and put her name on what would become the renowned “Nannette Stein Streicher in Vienna” pianos. By then, Ludwig was a celebrated composer-pianist. He required instruments that met his very exacting specifications, and Nannette produced them all. Throughout his life, he played on more than a dozen Streicher pianos, claiming he preferred them over others. This beautifully written, though lengthy, account rightfully brings a lesser-known historical personality to wider attention, but its appeal is somewhat limited. It will be appreciated mostly by adult Beethoven fans and older children, particularly piano students practicing Beethoven pieces. Gorgeous gouache and colored-pencil illustrations bring the detailed period artworks to radiant life. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
Music lovers will rejoice over this worthy title. (author’s note, bibliography, historical figures mentioned in this book, bibliography)” (Kirkus Reviews)