Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 (2007)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

While in the 21st century many musical instruments are mass-produced on an assembly line, at the Steinway Factory in Queens, NY, grand pianos are still made largely by hand, much as they were centuries before, and each piano develops a tonal personality very much its own as it slowly takes shape in the hands of expert craftsmen. Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 is a documentary from filmmaker Ben Niles that follows the meticulous process of creating one of these remarkable instruments, … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Special Interest
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 9, 2009
Plow Productions - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037

All Critics (22) | Top Critics (12)

Like an elegant set of theme and variations, director Ben Niles' beautiful, probing documentary about music and craftsmanship takes a simple idea and follows it in a number of directions.

Full Review… | May 30, 2008
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

This narrative gambit allows Niles to score a quiet but stunning rhetorical point: in their meticulous attention to detail, the blue-collar workers who've spent their lives at the plant seem just as artistic as any musician.

Full Review… | February 1, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's inspirational to watch and listen as the Steinway employees demonstrate with pride their part in producing an instrument that will sell for more than $100,000 and may succeed some of its brethren on the stage at Carnegie Hall.

Full Review… | January 18, 2008
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A modestly scaled but enjoyable documentary.

Full Review… | January 4, 2008
Boston Globe
Top Critic

A fascinating documentary that more than just piano lovers can enjoy.

December 11, 2007
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

As a study of stubborn artisanal tradition in the Pro Tools age, Note by Note is a stirring symphony of specialized labor.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037

"Note by Note: The Making of the Steinway L1037" is a slight documentary that functions as a de facto factory tour as it follows the making of a concert piano from the selection of lumber in Alaska to the finished product at the Steinway factory in Astoria, Queens. Sadly, there is little history(at least, I know how Steinway Street got its name now). Instead, the documentary takes a broad approach by being more about Queens, and its reputation as a multicultural borough where the pianos are made by a diverse group of people, both neighborhood guys and immigrants, contrasted with Manhattan, where the pianos, outside the price range of the craftsmen, are on display at the store at the corner of 57th Street and Sixth Avenue for potential customers. All of whom are united by music that they all help to create.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


Andrew Fillmore

Super Reviewer

Interesting and well done documentary with interviews and performances from notable pianists of several different genres. I'll never look at a concert piano the same way again after learning about the all of the months of sweat, craftsmanship, and magic that goes into making one. I even discovered some new great piano pieces that I'd like to add to my collection of recordings. One aspect not covered: I would have liked to see how they make the keys -- one of the "prettiest" parts of a piano.

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