"This instrument was given to us by a family in Westchester that my wife taught lessons to. She started with the oldest when he was nine, added his younger brother and sister a couple of years later, and ended up starting their little sister soon after. At that point, their mother upgraded their hand-me-down spinet piano with a restored antique baby grand. When my wife heard about the new piano, she joked that she could give the spinet a new home, but left it at that. A few weeks later, when the piano dealer delivered the new instrument, she had them take this one to our apartment! I got the call a couple of hours before they arrived with it, and it was in very good shape. That was almost ten years ago, and it’s lived and moved with us through three apartments since. My wife, who trained as a singer, uses it for arranging and practicing. I use it for transcription and fooling around, but I’m a drummer. Every so often, I bring it into the living room for jazz sessions. The guys that come over are really good, and it’s nice to have an instrument that sounds good and holds up like this one. A keyboard might be easier to store and move around, but nothing beats a real piano!
Our cat, Isabelle, came to live with us about nine years ago. She was supposed to be a foster cat while her owner found a new apartment--he wrote us checks for her fancy food and the vet bill and everything--but six weeks turned into six months, and after a year he realized she was ours (and we were hers), and he acknowledged that and found new kitties for himself. She was thirteen years old when we got her, and stayed with us almost ten years. She liked to sit on top of the piano near the upper register, or the cabinet next to the piano on the bass end. As we rarely covered the keys, we could hear her walking across the keyboard to get from the bench to her preferred spot, and referred to the output as one of her “symphonies.” She also loved the bench, and in the last year of her life, we used it as a gurney for her while we administered fluids twice a week. She only stopped going up there when she went blind, about a week before she passed. When it was clear she was in pain and close to her time, the vet came over and took care of things in our living room. I’m grateful for that, because the last thing I would want to do to her was put her through the trauma of another vet visit at the end. This way, she could pass at home, with us. The vet made a cast of her paw prints on a terra-cotta medallion and affixed a lock of her fur to the back. We have plenty of pictures, but this is a nice way to remember her."
Matthew works as a professional stage hand throughout NYC and is a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local One (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), the first chapter founded in 1893 when stage hands from NYC and surrounding cities met in NYC and banded together to demand fair wages and reasonable working conditions. Matthew tells us that many of the original stage hands were sailors and dock workers, due to their strength and knot tying abilities.
Pianos of New York is a blog for people who love pianos and the stories they tell. It features an ongoing series of photographs and stories from New York City piano owners who wish to share their passion for pianos and the special place they hold in human lives.
Pianos of New York is brought to you by Orpheus Piano Company, a Brooklyn-based piano service company specializing in piano tuning and repair of the highest quality.