|Henry E. Steinway (February 17, 1797 – February 7, 1871) was a German piano manufacturer and the founder of Steinway & Sons.|
Steinway was born Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg in Wolfshagen im Harz, Germany, and had a hard and poor childhood, because by the age of 15, his mother, father, and all of his siblings were dead from disease and tragedy. At the age of 15 he began work as a carpenter, and later he became an apprentice to an organ builder in the town of Goslar. He became an organ player in the church. He started building instruments, though hidden in the kitchen of his house because of the strong rules of the guild.
In 1835 he made the first square piano, which he presented to his bride Juliane at their wedding. In 1836 he built his first grand piano in his kitchen in the town of Seesen. This piano was later named the "kitchen piano", and is now on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art with a Steinweg 1836 square piano.
Because of the unstable political climate in Germany, Steinweg decided to leave the country. He emigrated from Braunschweig, Germany, to New York City in 1851 with four of his sons, but before leaving he gave the company to his son, Theodor Steinweg. Once in New York, he anglicized his name to Henry E. Steinway, and he and his sons worked for other piano companies until they could establish their own production under the name of Steinway & Sons in 1853. The business expanded with the inventions they made. The overstrung scale in a square piano earned the Steinway Piano first prize at the New York Industrial Fair of 1855.
He and his wife, Juliane, had seven children: Albert Steinway, Charles H. Steinway, Christian Friedrich Theodor Steinweg, Doretta Steinway, Henry Steinway, Jr., Wilhelmina Steinway and William Steinway
Steinway died in New York City, United States, on February 7, 1871, nearly 74 years old.