When we bought our house more than 40 years ago, my Dad said he’d get us a piano. Notice, he didn’t say “buy,” he didn’t ask us what we wanted, and he didn’t say anything about what kind of a piano it would be. We moved into our newly-built house on December 16, 1969. A few months later, Dad called to say he’d secured the promised piano, and it would be delivered soon.
When it arrived, there was good news and bad news. The good news: It was a grand piano! Not a baby grand, but at a little over 5 feet, a grand. And it would go a long way towards filling up what was a totally empty formal living room. The bad news: It was in horrible condition. Sadly neglected, the cabinet was a mess, and it hadn’t been tuned in who knew how long.
When I called to tell Dad the piano had arrived and about its condition, he admitted he’d never seen it. A client had been looking to dispose of his deceased mother’s furnishings and knowing he’d get bupkes for the piano if he tried to sell it, he gave it to my Dad gratis. Dad only had to pay for shipping.
M was horrified and thought we should get rid of it. But I decided to make some inquiries about the piano. It was an Estey, a brand we’d never heard of. However, I learned that the Estey Piano Company had been for many years a leading manufacturer of fine piano with a factory in the Bronx. Indeed, the plaque inside the piano said: Est’d 1869. New York City.
Though we had no idea exactly how old this Estey was (we guesstimated 40 – 50 years), the knowledgeable people I consulted said the piano had begun life as a high quality instrument and was still viable. Therefore, it was worth refinishing the cabinet and having it tuned.
Refinishing turned it into a handsome piece of furniture around which we eventually furnished the living room. And once it was tuned, the sound was quite fine.
As the years went by, things began to go wrong. Despite having it tuned regularly, little by little, l parts deteriorated. Our tuner would come and fix one thing only to have to return soon after to fix something else.
Broken hammers. Keys sticking. Sluggish action. And, finally, a crack in the sound board.
For several years, I’ve wanted to buy a new piano. Finally, this past week, we did. Yesterday, the Old Grand Lady made way for the new.
As excited as I was/am about my new piano, I was a bit sad to see the Grand Old Lady — now around 100 years old — go.