Vladimir Horowitz’s piano, the Steinway CD314503, is currently on national tour. I heard nothing of this until a couple days ago, when I found out it’s currently at a local piano dealer. I’d have to be insane to pass up something like that.
So here it is in all of its glory:
I didn’t intend on playing it. I wanted to when I first heard about it, sure — who wouldn’t want to? But appointments had to be made for that and I wasn’t keen on playing in the middle of a music store with who-knows how many people standing around and listening to my nervous self butcher music. I usually play in private, except for rare special occasions, so I wasn’t keen on facing the pressure of letting my fingers touch the keys of Horowitz’s Steinway, THE Steinway…! Just seeing it is a rare opportunity in itself, so I was content with just looking.
And because it is such a rare opportunity and I know that there is a large musically-inclined population where I live, I expected to see a crowd.
Reifsnyder’s was practically empty. And there was the piano. All alone. Silent. Waiting. Overpowering all of the other pianos in the store.
“You can play it,” said one of the men who worked there.
“I don’t have an appointment!” I blurted out. “I’m content to just look at it.”
“The next appointment is in five minutes. You can play it.” Translation: just play it and get out of here; you know you want to.
Five minutes. Talk about temptation. I asked another gentleman who worked there if it’s only very talented folks who have been coming by to play it.
“Oh, we have people of all levels playing it. We’ve heard Moonlight Sonata… Chopsticks…”
Chopsticks?! On THAT piano?! The horror! The poor thing’s used to having better than that played on it!
I’m no concert pianist, but I can do more than just Chopsticks, so I did it — I marched over and played part of Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1, one of the few things that I can generally play well from my head under pressure. Ah, but I was so nervous (intimidated by the piano more than by the meager audience) and I did botch up the Nocturne in ways that I never do, but that piano — and the dynamics! The keys were so light in comparison to the clunky Kranich & Bach that I’m used to playing. And I’m told the keys used to be even lighter. I think it feels heavenly enough as is. I barely needed to touch it and it sang beautifully.
I must say — what a magnificent instrument. And I admit I’m glad I did more than just look.