Udo Steingraeber is the 6th generation to head up Bayreuth's piano manufacturer, Steingraeber & Söhne, where he also learned piano building. He studied law and theater at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. He was able to get a whiff of the atmosphere at the Bavarian State Opera while serving as a directing assistant under General Director August Everding, and his enduring passion for opera was shaped by having worked for the Bayreuth Festival as a child. Eduard Steingraeber was his great-great-great uncle. His full name is Udo Schmidt-Steingraeber, a result of historical naming rights that go back to his great-aunt, Lilly Steingraeber's generation. After the sudden death of his father in 1980, he took over the direction of the company at the tender age of twenty-four.
Between 1981 and 2009, Udo Steingraeber and the Steingraeber design team developed three new concert grands, various chamber and salon grands, and concert pianos. Most were for his own firm, but some, such as the new Pleyel grand piano 280, were commissions from colleagues in the piano industry. Since 1988, Steingraeber & Sons' innovations have continuously won prizes at every Paris piano test of the top-flight instruments. Some were awarded independently, some jointly with the five, top-quality colleagues that comprise the small group of the world's A-1 best manufacturers, as they are designated in the US rankings.
Steingraeber & Söhne abides by his credo, "The technical development of the piano is no more complete than the music that is constantly being written for it…" In cooperation with inventors, Steingraeber has created a whole series of innovative products that complement Steingraeber & Sons' classic pianos, which are built along extremely traditional lines. These innovations include energy transmission of the Phoenix, carbon fiber soundboards, SFM pianos, to name a few. Along with doctors and universities, Steingraeber is repeatedly trying to develop user-related innovations, such as actuator-controlled pedals for wheelchair users.
As the longtime Chairman of the Federation of German Piano Builders and Vice President of the Europiano Association, Udo Steingraeber is particularly dedicated to the improvement of education and training for European piano builders, both male and female. He has also been the guiding force behind the European Piano Technician Degree. Since 2006, testing has been standardized in sixteen countries and fourteen different languages, which has enabled piano technicians to train in about half of these countries for the first time. High-level training has thus been standardized across European borders from Russia to Spain and Norway to Italy.
Historic Steingraeber Haus in Bayreuth, a 1754 Rococo palace, is his favorite pastime. Its strictly historic restoration continues year after year, along with the promotion of modern art, technology, and our own cultural program of seventy events per year, for which the palace is open to the wider public. For all of these reasons, as well as his patronage and sponsorship of social and cultural institutions, Udo Steingraeber has been awarded two cultural prizes, one from the city of Bayreuth, the other from the Region of Upper Franconia.