Posts tagged art
In part one of this series we looked at the very FIRST art case made by Steinway. Oh sure there have been many MANY other manufacturers before and after 1856. That was just a small story introducing the concept of “art case” – if you weren’t familiar with the term. Now we’re going to look at a few examples of modern art case pianos. To begin with, i thot i’d introduce a recent photo of a piano named Grotrian – high end, beautiful and such a classic art case. To me an art case is all about proportions – note how the cabriole legs (double curved 18th century type) give a certain elegance to the design. The music rack is embellished with scroll work. Repeated again under the keyboard. Even the side rims are notched and accented with motifs. Though i prefer satin art case instruments, this one has been high polished. In England, they’re called ‘bright’ finishes. Check out these other examples of art case: a few vintage Steinways – one with ornate carvings, the other with detailed inlays. While some would call these garish, if you’re a woodworker of any kind, you’ll appreciate if nothing else, the labour that went into the meticulous detail.
And finally, some modern day examples of art case – Bosendorfer designed by Audi. Steinway’s year 2000 “Rhapsody in Blue” limited edition (commemorating George Gershwin). And one of my all time favorites, Schimmel’s Pegasus. Click on the picture to see the enlarged photos.
A friend of mine (who will remain nameless) is a bit of a legend in the piano industry. One day we started talking Steinway and he asked if he ever told me about “Twelve Twenty-Five”. “1225? What’s that?” He proceeded to tell me about this piano that is the oldest known “Art Case” Steinway ever found. He and a business partner bought it! (before it entered into Steinway museum). Here it is if you want to take a look. So art case refers to anything aside from standard traditional looking grand piano. “Traditional” means straight legs, no frills cabinet in either black, walnut or mahogany. “Art case” refers to paintings, carvings, fancy legs, scroll work, inlays, exotic woods and recognized designers.
But let me first continue with the 1225 story. So… apparently (as legends take on a life of their own…) this piano was part of an estate. But here is where it gets tricky because the piano didn’t say STEINWAY anywhere on it. Well… how do you know if you have a Steinway if it doesn’t have those letters anywhere on the cabinet? There were only 2 clues: One was that the music rack was carved with the same pattern as Steinway. The second clue was that the designer was definitively the same designer Steinway had used in later projects. On a gamble, these two men bought the Steinway… or what they THOUGHT was a Steinway. Some time later an entourage came from the factory to authenticate the piano and… sure enough it is the oldest art case piano presently in existence from Steinway & Sons. By the way… 1225 is the serial number of the piano dating it to 1856.