Piano: A tragic love story of sorts

Posted August 20, 2010 by Maire in Hobbies, Music / 0 Comments

Gerhard Heintzman Upright Grand Piano circa July 1900

This is my piano.  She doesn’t have a name.  She never did.  The information on her sound board indicates that she was “registered” in July of 1900. This means she was likely built somewhere between 1895 and 1900.  The manufacturer’s name is Gerhard Heintzman, who built pianos for a short while back at the turn of the last century.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I grew up in a very artistic family.  My parents gave my brother and I a lot of encouragement towards art and music.  What many people don’t realize is that piano took up much of my formative years, and while some can walk away from their early training, I really miss it.

Once upon a time…

I expressed an interest in lessons around the age of 10. Mum and Dad didn’t put a lot of faith into any long-term musical interest.  I’d already dropped out of multiple dance classes and had some social awkwardness with Girl Guides. Piano was just one more expensive hobby I was bound to quit.

The age of 10 is also a little late to start lessons. Many serious pianists start developing their skills about 4  or 5 years earlier.  For the first year or two, I would practice at the church across the street for about a half hour each day at lunchtime.  It soon became evident that I would need a piano of my own.

Roll in the piano.

I seem to recall being sick near my birthday, so I was home from school.  I wasn’t allowed to come downstairs that day. When she was moved in and situated in our living room, they let me come down to see her.  The picture really doesn’t do her justice, because the finish is nothing like it was back then. The living room of that house really suited her.

If I recall, Mum & Dad picked her up from a neighbour whose sister had gone into nursing care & would no longer be playing.  Later, I was told that they almost literally got her “for a song”.

I didn’t stop after 2 years of lessons.  She moved with us to Yellowknife, where I completed my Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 8 Practical (I also finished my first year of Harmony, which is roughly the equivalent of Musical Math & Composition).

An old piano doesn’t relocate well.

She probably should have stayed in Yellowknife.  I had gone to college, and the thought was always there that once I grew up & got my own place, I would call for my piano and have it moved.  Mum and Dad, however, moved to Calgary, and brought her with them.

There was no room in their living room, so they put her in the sunroom, where she’s been ever since.  I moved from their house to a small townhouse, then a tiny apartment, and then to a house where we wouldn’t have been able to get her up the stairs to the living room (plus, we were never sure how long we would be there).  Finally, we bought our pretty little home in the Northeast of the city…and there’s no room for her here.  Actually, there’s some room in the basement, but we’d never get her down the stairs.  Pianos aren’t built like IKEA furniture.

Mum and Dad had her assessed for sale recently, as they want to clean up & fix the sunroom.  Her finish is crackled from moisture, her soundboard has some small cracks.  She needs to be re-strung, as she still has the original steel wires (amazingly enough, they haven’t rusted).  I gather she needs new felts, and I’m sure there is more damage that I’m not remembering.  She’s 110 years old.  When 110 years old you are, look as good you will not.

Sometimes there is no Prince Charming

I’m hoping that Mum is able to post up her info on Kijiji and find a new home for her.  I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that her time on earth may just be over.  She’s come a long way from the front parlour of our old Victorian home. Dad has mentioned that if they can’t find a buyer or someone to move her away, he’ll have to dismantle her & take her to the dump.  There is a wee part of my heart that hopes that if this happens, he turns her case into a nice cabinet or desk (I’ve seen it done..it can look very pretty).

Myself, I’m keeping an eye out for a digital piano.  When we have the money to do so, I’ll be visiting the dealers in the city to try out their showroom models, and will either look into a new unit, or see what’s on the second-hand market.  I’m thankful that my parents found my sheet music and my Flute…so I’m looking forward to playing again.  Never know…I may decide to finish my training and get my teacher’s certificate πŸ™‚


I have a horrible tendency to self-edit and will find tons of reasons why I won’t write, usually for family reasons.  Generally, I try to avoid pushback on delicate subjects, mainly because I know that “The Family” has my URL, and it would cause Teh Dramas.

I’m trying to overcome that.  I had thought that maybe I would keep a “sooper seekrud journal” elsewhere…maybe on Livejournal or Blogspot, but just couldn’t bring myself to do that.  I still have my old LJ account, and it gets dusted off once in a while to  put something that just needs to get out that I don’t want the general public to see.  Thing is…while starting yet another journal holds some sort of appeal, I’ve been blogging in this one for years, albeit off & on.

So, needless to say, I’ll try to do better.


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