The Victory Vertical Piano Project was launched by pianist Garik Pedersen in November, 2017 to tell, in words and music, an amazing and little-known story about pianos that were built for the military during World War II.
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 metal, 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
Contact me to schedule a live concert presentation or for more information
2019-20 Performance Season
25-26 Ohio Music Teachers Association
State Conference, Sylvania
1 West Virginia Music Teachers Association State Conference, Huntington
8 Chelsea Retirement Community
Chelsea, MI (3pm)
10-11 Trezevant Manor, Memphis, TN
17 First Presbyterian of Gainsville, GA
Fine Arts Series
29 Schoolcraft College, Livonia, MI
7-10 Terrace Hill Historic Site, Des Moines, IA
Faith Lutheran Church, Des Moines
13 Central Michigan University,
Mt. Pleasant, MI (7:30 pm)
19 All Seasons of West Bloomfield, MI (1 pm)
24-25 Trinity University, San Antonio, TX
25 University of Texas-San Antonio
8 Yankee Air Museum, Belleville, MI
19 All Seasons of Birmingham, MI (3 pm)
21-25 MTNA National Conference, Chicago, IL
3 All Seasons of Rochester Hills, MI (7:30 pm)
27 College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO
10 Toledo Museum of Art
20 MIchigan League, University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
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
IN THE NEWS
HENRY Z STEINWAY
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.