Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

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IcedNote
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Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by IcedNote » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:26 pm

So...my piano preludes are being performed on Horowitz's piano out here in NorCal next weekend at a recital. Pretty cool! However...is this strange!? I mean...it seems pretty strange to me...unless it's the Greatest Sounding Piano of All Time or something like that. Does this happen to other instruments? Maybe it's better than just sitting in a museum?

Curious,

-G
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John F
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by John F » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:07 am

I first heard of Horowitz's piano being "on tour" years ago. The only other modern piano to achieve celebrity (if that's the right word) is Glenn Gould's. Both were set up in a special way to suit the pianist and were reserved for him. I'm sure Lance can tell about that much better than I can.
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Teresa B
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by Teresa B » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:20 am

Yep...I actually played Horowitz's piano here in the Tampa area, as it came here to the local Steinway dealer some years ago. I found it totally unremarkable, and prefer the action and feel of my own piano. (I suspect the old saw about there being no bad pianos, only bad pianists, also has some applicability to great pianos/pianists!)

Teresa
"We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." ~ The Cheshire Cat

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John F
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by John F » Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:14 am

Perhaps the Horowitz piano that went on tour isn't the one with which he produced his unique sound during the '50s. I remember reading that the felts were filed down and possibly also lacquered to produce that brilliance which wasn't so often evident in his later recordings. Also that the action was very light. Lance?
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jbuck919
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:27 pm

Teresa B wrote:Yep...I actually played Horowitz's piano here in the Tampa area, as it came here to the local Steinway dealer some years ago. I found it totally unremarkable, and prefer the action and feel of my own piano. (I suspect the old saw about there being no bad pianos, only bad pianists, also has some applicability to great pianos/pianists!)
That was very dangerous, Teresa. That piano is known to turn pianists into flat-fingered players. :mrgreen:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by Lance » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:06 pm

I, too, played Horowitz's piano when it was on tour several years ago in Atlanta, GA. I didn't think it had the same brilliance ... in other words, they took off his "steel-sounding" hammers and used conventional but still well-voiced hammers. The thrill, of course, is to lay your hands on the same keyboard unless the action was also replaced. Only those involved in the maintenance would know this for sure. Our CMG member, Susan Hammond of Classical Kids CDs, just played a recital or two on it in San Francisco. I would imagine the psychological, almost intimidating feeling, about playing such a piano. As John Francis mentioned, the only other Steinway concert grand to enjoy this celebrity was Glenn Gould's, after which he switched to Yamaha late in his career and made his second commercial recording of the Goldbergs for Sony. I personally prefer his earlier mono recording on the Steinway. Another piano of almost equal distinction is Liberace's glittery Baldwin concert grand piano. How I do miss some of these wonderful Baldwin pianos these days. Of course, Glenn Gould's small American Chickering also has some pianistic status. How he loved that piano!
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John F
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by John F » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:20 pm

I believe Richter sometimes played a Baldwin, didn't he? His first American tour, at least the New York/Boston part of it, used a Hamburg Steinway (as I heard at the time), but a biography of him says he later used a Baldwin. Not that it was so important to him. He always said that a pianist should just use the house piano and be done with it, and he did that in his Siberian tour.
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:27 pm

Lance wrote:As John Francis mentioned, the only other Steinway concert grand to enjoy this celebrity was Glenn Gould's, after which he switched to Yamaha late in his career and made his second commercial recording of the Goldbergs for Sony.
Sounds like he must have been getting paid under the table by the Japanese government. :mrgreen:

As for Baldwins, we must have covered this before, but wasn't Baldwin the official piano for the NY Philharmonic for many years and therefore also of Leonard Bernstein? I'm sure someone will quickly correct any part of that I've gotten wrong.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

John F
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by John F » Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:01 pm

A number of top pianists switched to Yamaha at about that time, including Andre Watts. He said it was because Steinway's service wasn't what he wanted it to be, and Yamaha's was. I don't know why Gould changed pianos.
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Teresa B
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by Teresa B » Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:03 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Teresa B wrote:Yep...I actually played Horowitz's piano here in the Tampa area, as it came here to the local Steinway dealer some years ago. I found it totally unremarkable, and prefer the action and feel of my own piano. (I suspect the old saw about there being no bad pianos, only bad pianists, also has some applicability to great pianos/pianists!)
That was very dangerous, Teresa. That piano is known to turn pianists into flat-fingered players. :mrgreen:
...So that's what happened!
:mrgreen:
Teresa
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Lance
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:36 am

Indeed, the BALDWIN was the official piano of the New York Philharmonic for many years though most of the performing artists used Steinway instruments for their live concerts. Leonard Bernstein was a Baldwin artist as was Ruth Slenczynska, Benno Moiseiwitsch (in the USA), Godowsky (I believe), Jorge Bolet (highly visible with Baldwin), Earl Wild, Igor Stravinsky, Luciano Pavarotti, Walter Gieseking (in the USA), Joseph Banowetz, Ruth Laredo, David Bar-Illan, Marian McPartland, Liberace, and the list goes on and on.

Here's a more complete list that appeared elsewhere on this forum some time ago, with duplications listed from above:

Peter Allen • Claudio Arrau (early on) • Wilhelm Backhaus • Bela Bartók • Count Basie • Harold Bauer • Sir Thomas Beecham • Leonard Bernstein • Jussi Björling • Jorge Bolet • Benjamin Britten • Emerson Buckley • Aaron Copland • Ernst von Dohnányi • Eddie Duchin • Bill Evans • Arthur Fiedler • Erroll Garner • Walter Gieseking • Alberto Ginastera • Eugene Goosens • John Green • Johana Harris • Natalie Hinderas • José Iturbi • Paul Jacobs • Serge Koussevitsky • Ruth Laredo • Josef Lhevinne • Rosina Lhevinne • Liberace • Adele Marcus • Eduardo Mata • Marian McPartland • Darius Milhaud • Benno Moiseiwitch • Pierre Monteux • Charles Munch • Eugene Ormandy • Vladimir de Pachmann • Leonard Pennario (early on) • Gregor Piatigorsky • Ezio Pinza • Francis Poulenc • Ottorino Respighi • Edwin Romain • Moriz Rosenthal • Max Rudolf • Leonard Shure • Sir Georg Solti • Igor Stravinsky • Soulima Stravinsky • Joseph Szigeti • Virgil Thomson • Werner Torkanowsky • Richard Tucker • Lawrence Welk • Mary Lou Williams • Earl Wild • Teddy Wilson • Eugene Ysaye • Luciano Pavarotti • Gladys Swarthout • David Bar-Illan • Ruth Slenczynska
jbuck919 wrote:
Lance wrote:As John Francis mentioned, the only other Steinway concert grand to enjoy this celebrity was Glenn Gould's, after which he switched to Yamaha late in his career and made his second commercial recording of the Goldbergs for Sony.
Sounds like he must have been getting paid under the table by the Japanese government. :mrgreen:

As for Baldwins, we must have covered this before, but wasn't Baldwin the official piano for the NY Philharmonic for many years and therefore also of Leonard Bernstein? I'm sure someone will quickly correct any part of that I've gotten wrong.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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John F
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by John F » Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:36 am

I've recently read Gieseking's little memoir, and it was he (not Richter) who praised Baldwin pianos highly. This was before World War II. After the war, his planned American tour was prevented by protests of the kind that blocked Furtwängler too, which led to him being effectively under house arrest in his Manhattan hotel with a couple of FBI "minders" until he returned to Europe without having played a note here. What instrument he used for his well-known postwar EMI recordings made in London and Geneva I don't remember reading; was it still a Baldwin or could it have been a Bechstein? At any rate, it never became a fetish object like Horowitz's and Gould's Steinways, and he may not have had a particular favorite anyway.
John Francis

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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:30 am

I don't recall Richter having played a Baldwin piano though any pianist would probably at least have been exposed to various brands. Ivan Moravec made his finest Debussy recordings on a Baldwin SD-10 that was absolutely exquisite and he was usually a Steinway artist. Richter made some recordings on Yamaha pianos, and, in a DGG recording with Fischer-Dieskau, it is most assuredly a Yamaha concert grand. I think he was less particular with his pianos since, in Russia, from all account with artists I've talked with, the pianos were very poorly maintained. Gieseking also played Bechsteins as did Jorge Bolet. Bechstein was once owned by Baldwin/America for quite a few years until it was sold back to the Germans. After the war, the Jewish population who played Bechstein almost exclusively (such as Rudolf Serkin and Artur Schnabel) would not play that brand again given the relationship Hitler had with Helene Bechstein during WWII, who provided Hitler with money, cars, a Bechstein piano, etc., et al, and who knows what else! :wink: Many Bechstein artists from Europe soon switched their allegiance to Steinway-Hamburg, which many artists felt was superior to the American made instrument (except Horowitz who preferred the American). I have always been fascinated by piano brands used by the great artists. Interestingly, many grand artists who came on the scene quickly played the KNABE from Baltimore, including Rubinstein and Schnabel, both who disliked the piano (especially its action), as did others after they played Steinways and Baldwins, not to mention Mason & Hamlins and Chickerings. Both the latter brands went other ways after WWII, and maybe even more so since the 1929 market crash. Baldwin became Steinway's biggest competitor and also manufactured more pianos in the USA than anybody else. It was Steinway's concert grand (9' Model D, and the 7' Model B) that became that company's leaders. I love both brands, of course, and it is Steinway who has emerged as the grand successor now with only Yamaha trailing its tail and Kawai/Japan, who makes superior instruments including the "Boston" brand piano built to Steinway specs by Kawai. The Kawai EX concert grand is one of the finest built instruments I have ever encountered. The Chinese and Korean people are building less than superior pianos taking American names still showing original manufacturing places such as Boston (Hallett & Davis, for example). These are price-point pianos that look really nice but cannot begin to compare with the musical and artistic quality built into the finest American and European instruments. Bosendorfer-Vienna is still a top-quality instrument, once owned by an American company {Kimball}, whose own pianos were NOT highly prized, but they had $$$. Today, Bosendorfer is wholly owned by the Yamaha Corporation. It remains to be seen what will happen as Yamaha emerges stronger and stronger over time given their financial position in the market and their constant improvement in producing outstanding concert grand instruments. I highly doubt the Bosendorfer as a company will die. ♫
John F wrote:I've recently read Gieseking's little memoir, and it was he (not Richter) who praised Baldwin pianos highly. This was before World War II. After the war, his planned American tour was prevented by protests of the kind that blocked Furtwängler too, which led to him being effectively under house arrest in his Manhattan hotel with a couple of FBI "minders" until he returned to Europe without having played a note here. What instrument he used for his well-known postwar EMI recordings made in London and Geneva I don't remember reading; was it still a Baldwin or could it have been a Bechstein? At any rate, it never became a fetish object like Horowitz's and Gould's Steinways, and he may not have had a particular favorite anyway.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

IcedNote
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by IcedNote » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:42 pm

Somewhat shockingly, many of the technicians who have worked on Horowitz's piano have signed it underneath. Not sure how I feel about that!

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-G
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IcedNote
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by IcedNote » Sun Feb 10, 2013 12:49 pm

...but I do know how I feel about getting to play it! :mrgreen:

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-G
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jbuck919
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Re: Horowitz's piano is "on tour." Is this normal?

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Feb 10, 2013 3:14 pm

IcedNote wrote:Somewhat shockingly, many of the technicians who have worked on Horowitz's piano have signed it underneath. Not sure how I feel about that!

Image
Darn! They cut it off just above where you can see "Lance G. Hill." :mrgreen:
IcedNote wrote:...but I do know how I feel about getting to play it! :mrgreen:

Image
Photoshop! Photoshop! :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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