Updated: Mar 1, 2022
This is the first in a series of our Mobile Music Lessons faculty sharing about their instruments.
What does an instrument mean to its owner? It’s a relationship that is nurtured over time, and it may take years to refine and define. For pianists, the partnership is interesting, because the vast majority of us practice on an instrument at home and then play a different instrument on stage at the performance venue.
For me, my relationship with my piano began when I was just a young child. I had taken piano lessons and was entranced by the sound of the instrument. I had started on a large upright piano, but as my mother saw how much I gravitated toward sound, she invested in a Steinway L piano when I was just around six years old. I played this piano throughout high school and on breaks during college and graduate school at Eastman School of Music, where I studied piano performance & literature. I am so fortunate that my instrument now lives with me at home in Iowa (pictured).
Great music-making begins with a concept of sound in our minds. As the composer Richard Wagner said, “Imagination creates reality.” A musician may want to create a sound as precise as snow falling on snow on a quiet morning. The quality of an instrument can help determine just how vivid a trained musician can create a sound concept.
What’s remarkable about a Steinway piano is that it provides a full palette of colors that a skilled musician can draw from to create their sound picture. As pianist Yefim Bronfman (who recently played a Des Moines recital) says, “The Steinway piano is the most harmonious implement for musical intention.” Specifically, Steinways have a sonorous bass, a clear middle section and a twinkling upper range to enable a fully orchestrated sound that activates a piano’s overtones to create magical sounds. Once the musician hears how the instrument responds, they can adjust and create new sounds in real time. This translates into an enhanced, magical, entirely unexpected and exhilarating musical experience for the performer and the listeners. The clarity of a pin falling on the ground; the smoothness of luminous pearls gliding across silk; noble bells tolling in the distance – on a Steinway, these vivid sounds bounce off the musical score and dance on the canvas of time.
Pianist Jeremy Denk said of Steinways, “The tone [that] has personality, that's human, that's not ‘just a sound’ but seems to have a kind of life of its own.” For those of us who have spent hundreds of hours with our instruments, we have become important partners as we realize bold artistic visions together. For those of us who have played or heard Steinways, we have been fortunate to experience their masterful command of sound, action and touch, which has become the gold standard for all pianos.
If you're interested in a piano for your home, please be in touch with Brittany at West Music Piano Gallery.