Industry: The Way Grandpa Played It

Convinced they are rearing the Artur Rubinsteins or Peter Duchins of tomorrow—or at least children who will grow up to enjoy making music—U.S. parents are buying a record number of pianos. In 1966, sales hit 243,800, nearly 100,000 more than a decade ago. The company that is hitting the top notes of this financial fortissimo is privately owned Aeolian* Corp., the world's largest manufacturer of pianos, which last year crafted 50,000 units and grossed nearly $30 million.

While the Aeolian name itself is not widely recognized, its golden trade names have graced...

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