Steinway & Sons
1942 - 1953
“Thoroughly enjoyed your fine piano performance and lecture. . .”
"Very moving and poignant! I cried.
Lovely, brilliant, exciting,
Emeritus Professor of Piano
Eastern Michigan University
The Steinway Victory Verticals Project
An Historical Tribute
In presentations geared for musicians, veterans, historians, and a wide general audience, Pedersen uses descriptive vignettes accompanied by piano music in many styles-classical, popular, boogie-woogie, jazz, and movie soundtracks-to bring to life a remarkable account of courage, solidarity, and the power of music.
When the United States entered the war in 1941, raw materials, including iron, copper, and brass, were diverted to the war effort, and piano makers were suddenly forced to manufacture other products or go out of business.
The Steinway factory in Astoria, Queens, New York had already begun to build gliders for troop transport and coffins (unfortunately, also for troop transport) when Henry Z. Steinway and Roman de Majewski developed a plan to build a small, lightweight, inexpensive upright piano that could be packed in a crate and shipped to soldiers in the field, supplying them with music to improve morale and strengthen resolve.
These 40-inch, boxlike instruments, which contained no more than 33 lbs. of restricted metals, came with sheet music, instructions and tools for tuning and repair, as well as handles for easy transport. The enthusiastic response to the first shipment of 405 pianos resulted in more orders for O.D.G.I. (Olive Drab Government Issue) “field” pianos, and when production ended in 1953, 2,436 “Victory Vertical” pianos had been shipped to troops on three continents, and countless hours of diversion, education, entertainment, worship, enrichment, and outreach had been provided.
Live Concert Presentations
Pedersen, a concert pianist and Steinway Artist, performs music by Samuel Barber, Richard Addinsell, Roy Harris, Duke Ellington, R. Nathaniel Dett, David Raskin, Harry Warren, Ross Lee Finney, Frederic Chopin, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Glenn Miller, and many others to provide fascinating, beautiful, and moving glimpses into the war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose.
The Victory Vertical Piano Project presents a story for all ages and all time; but more specifically, it is a story for our time. Contact Dr. Pedersen to schedule a VVPP program for your school, concert or lecture series, museum, library, church, veterans group, conference, or retirement center.
Pedersen at Steinway Factory, NYC
About the Artist
Garik Pedersen first heard about the O.D.G.I. “Victory Vertical” pianos during an impromptu interview with Henry Z. Steinway in his office at Steinway Hall in New York City a few months before Mr. Steinway’s death in 2008. Since then he has become increasingly fascinated with this incredible story.
Pedersen, a Steinway artist, has performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and in Europe, Canada, Central America, Taiwan and the Philippine Islands. He has presented programs for the U.S. State Department, the National Federation of Music Clubs, Music Teachers National Association, the European Piano Teachers Association, Canadian Federation of Music Teachers Associations, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and on numerous public television and radio broadcasts. Currently a professor of piano at Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Pedersen has taught undergraduate and graduate students from many U.S. states and 13 other countries, producing prize winners in national and international—as well as numerous regional and state--competitions.
Dr. Pedersen has appeared at numerous summer music festivals, including Cleveland’s International Music Festival, Spokane’s Musicfest Northwest, the World Piano Conference (Serbia), Tunghai Summer Music Festival (Taiwan), Michigan’s Interlochen and Blue Lake camps, and other music camps and festivals in Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, Colorado, Kentucky, and Indiana. A student of Wesley True at the University of Central Missouri, which awarded him its Distinguished Alumnus in Music in 2010, he was the final DMA piano student of John Simms at the University of Iowa, graduating in 1986. Other major influences have been Gyorgy Sebok, Eugene Bossart, and Edwin E. Gordon.
Garik is a past president of Michigan Music Teachers Association, which honored him with its Distinguished Service Award in 2016. He received the Michigan Touchstone Award in 2017 in recognition of his “commitment to Michigan’s artistic excellence and his advocacy for the arts.” He is listed in the 2018 edition of Who’s Who in Fine Arts Higher Education.
Contact me to schedule a live concert presentation or for more information.
Facility requirements for a live concert presentation:
Tuned, acoustic piano with adjustable bench (grand or upright)
Projection system with sound for Power Point
Voice Microphone for larger groups