Music Department's Vintage Steinway Gets New Lease on Life

The Music Department’s signature piano, a vintage Steinway concert grand built in 1911 and purchased in 1981, has undergone a major restoration and is now back in service. Currently housed in the Music Education Hall in the Green Music Center, it will become a mainstay at nearby Schroeder Hall.

The instrument is highly regarded by chamber music director Marilyn Thompson for its warm, singing tone: “It has the ‘old’ Steinway sound – dark and voluptuous, and full of many, many colors.” Staff Piano Technician Larry Lobel, RPT, performed the work during December and January with the assistance of Louis del Bene and several specialty shops. Lobel says:

"The restoration had to be done in a tight time window, during the one-month semester break from December to January – the only time of year it’s not in continuous service."

"An ambitious plan was laid out to repair and refinish the battered case; replace the worn-out hammers and ivory keytops; fix the wobbly pedal lyre; recondition the top treble string sections to improve tone; re-plate the rusted hardware with bright nickel finish; and replace the unsightly 'spider' dolly the piano sat on with easy-rolling solid brass double-wheel casters. Wanting to restore as much as possible the instrument’s original tone, genuine hammers and shanks were ordered from Steinway’s New York factory."

"All this had to be done without moving the piano itself offsite, although its removable parts were farmed out to various experts. Most of the work on the piano was done backstage in Weill Hall, with musicians, performers and stage crew looking on with interest as they went about their business of music-making."

Before being relocated to the GMC education wing, the piano had one day of use on the Weill Hall stage where it sounded, by all accounts, “Spectacular!”

– Larry Lobel and Ruth Wilson