Vladimir Horowitz’s piano comes to Richmond

Robert Silverman plays the Steinway and Sons Model D Horowitz piano at a press conference Nov. 16 in Vancouver. The legendary piano will be in Richmond Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.  -
Robert Silverman plays the Steinway and Sons Model D Horowitz piano at a press conference Nov. 16 in Vancouver. The legendary piano will be in Richmond Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.
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A grand piano whose legendary player captivated audiences for decades will be in Richmond next week as part of a North American tour.

The Steinway and Sons Model D Horowitz piano, a nine-foot grand and one of Steinway’s most revered designs, will be showcased at Tom Lee Music on No. 3 Road from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

Pianists will have the opportunity to play the instrument of the late Vladimir Horowitz for themselves.

“It would be the equivalent of a guitar player coming in, getting to play Jimi Hendrix’s Stratocaster,” said Graham Blank, vice-president of Tom Lee Music.

Blank said a new handmade Steinway concert grand piano is $130,000. This one, however, is priceless.

The piano was known to be a favourite instrument of Horowitz (1903-1989), a classical American pianist considered one of the greatest of the 20th century. His colourful personality and astounding performances entertained countless audiences.

Steinway and Sons gave a piano to Horowitz and his wife Wanda in 1934 as a wedding present. It was later replaced with a 1941 Steinway, an instrument that Horowitz would play until 1987—two years before his death in 1989.  He used the Steinway in many recitals and recordings in the ’70s and ‘80s.

He also demanded the piano be his exclusive instrument on tours.

“When Horowitz toured, there were two conditions: he had to have his piano, and he had to have his technician. Otherwise he would not play. He couldn’t control his performance without controlling those two factors,” said Blank.

The instrument has toured extensively. It arrived in Vancouver last week in a custom case, which requires four strong people to move. Each time it does, technicians fine tune the 71-year-old instrument, which does show signs of its journeys.

“It definitely does not look like a new piano,” said Blank, who noted its underside is covered with signatures of movers, tuners and artists who have handled the instrument through the decades. “It looks like it’s been tagged with graffiti.”

The piano is all original—except for the key tops, whose original ivory has been replaced with modern plastic—and it still boasts its unique character. Today, besides a few mechanical advancements, Steinways are built exactly the same.

The piano can be seen at Tom Lee Music, 3631 No. 3 Rd., during an open house Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pianists are also welcome to book a free, private appointment to play the piano, have their photo taken with it and receive a special certificate from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2. Call 604-273-6661 or visit tomleemusic.ca/horowitz for information.

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