Johann Andreas Stein was born the son of an organ maker on May 6, 1728 in
Heidelsheim/Baden. During some years of travel and training he went to many
different places such as Strasbourg, where he worked for J.A. Silbermann, the
most famous organ maker of that time, as well as Regensburg, Ulm and Stuttgart.
It was in 1750 that Andreas Stein finally settled in Augsburg, a lively city in
terms of both its music and economy.
There was a lot of work for him to do, because at that time there was no other
organ maker in town and he was asked to repair the organs of Protestant
churches including Heilig Kreuz, St. Jakob and St. Ulrich. Stein was able to
demonstrate his talent by building a new organ for the church called
Barfuesserkirche, which was first played at Whitsuntide 1757, but unfortunately
destroyed during World War II. By then, Stein had gained such a good reputation
that he was able to become an acknowledged citizen of Augsburg. At the same
time he became a successful piano maker. He managed to hone the art of making
Around 700 pianos were built in his workshop and sold all over Europe. He was a
member of 'Collegium Musicale' and a long-time friend of the Mozarts. When
staying in Augsburg from June 22 - July 6 1763 together with his wunderkinder,
Leopold Mozart bought a travel piano at Stein's workshop, which Wolfgang
Amadeus played for several years. At that time, Stein's workshop was located
next to the river Lech, but later on moved to the more prestigious
Maximilianstrasse. In October 1777, when Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart stayed in
Augsburg, Stein was a close confidant to him. During a concert, which was
performed in the big hall of the Fugger House on October 22, three pianofortes
built by Stein were played, and Stein even played one of the pianos himself!
What Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not very enthusiastic about was the talent of
Stein's daughter Nanette, who was considered a wunderkind in Augsburg, because
she had already given successful concerts on her piano. Wolfgang Amadeus wrote
to his father: '.on the subject of the girl, those not driven to laughter when
hearing and seeing her play, must be made of stone.'.
After Stein had died in 1792, his children Nanette, then called Streicher, and
Mattaeus Andreas (1776-1842) moved the workshop to Vienna. There Nanette became
Beethoven's 'good samaritan' and in several moving letters, Beethoven would
emphasise how much he adored her. There are only a few pianofortes still in
existance, one of them being on display at the Mozart Memorial Place.