Originally posted by pianodevo:
So you're a writer!? Evidently from your last post, a professional? That's interesting ... as far as I knew before your post, this board only had two professional writers, pique and myself.
And *curiously*, we both have Grotrian grands, and may be the only Grotrianers on the board too.
So I'm curious what you're playing on
Like the flippantly-picked moniker chosen on signup implies (should have done GrandChick and portrayed myself with an alter ego as a large woman): a Chickering concert grand, 1885, ebony, 9 ft.; early, now "classic", simple "modern" design; early entry of the currently typical modern action (all orginal, save the Renner hammers, felts, etc.). Most heavily built piano I've ever encountered; spade legs taper from 12 inches, to 9, then down to 5; 4-inch thick inner rim; massive brace beams; incredible thickness on an edge-to-edge full harp, etc. (1960 pounds--compare to weights of anything made today--only the 10'2" Fazzioli comes even slightly close). My friends are always saying "my girlfriend" needs to go on a diet. All around built like a tank.
Sings diminuitively like a svelt nordic siren with a light touch, but can belt it out like the proverbial fat lady wearing the Viking horns with a slight provocation. (As with his Bose's, Liszt also could not break his two Chickerings currently in the Liszt Museum in Budapest). I'm not trying to see if I can the way he probably did. My ears probably couldn't take it. The final long crescendo on Lecuona's Malaguena is awesome, though, in a way I only ever daydreamed it could be. (Bye-bye other pianos there and then.)
I do still have some more "other" pianos, though, but I might as well not have them as I don't touch them now. Kept a digital for those 4 a.m. impulses for when you just can't get an idea out of your head unless you get up and try it but want to keep peace with the neighbors. Also I keep a massive old 1896 Kimball I've had for 25 years at another home just because its tone is too wonderful to part with. (Yes, there WERE actually great Chicago Kimballs once upon a time, inspite of the recent thread about those awful 50's-80's jobs.)
So, anyway, we're not three-for-three on pianos, and writing. We might have been,if there'd been a Grotian anywhere in my shopping radius. I've read a lot of good things about Grotian. I tend to like the "European sounding" pianos myself and was looking at older, more affordable Bosendorfers (rare), Bechsteins, and Bluthners, with an eye open for a (emphasis on:) reasonably--priced Steinway. Quite accidentally, I found I liked a couple of vintage Chickerings and started seriously leaning that way. Then I found this particular one whose overall voice (especially after I regulated it) better suited my demanding ears than any piano I've ever played (many, usually badly, too).
The Beast is incredibly clear throughout its entire range with no hint of any transition in the string scaling. While the sound has a richness of overtones that seem lacking (to me) in some Steinways, they are taughtly controlled to a distinctly narrow roundness so that there is no muddiness, but neither is there excessive brightness (unless you absolutely pound the last two octaves). The treble and upper tenor shimmer like some of the old Steinway D's, but the bass is clear (even when called to thunder (easy)--hence the itch to do MacGregor's "Libertango" arrangement with that great lefthand). Sealing the deal, it has the best sustain, even in the highest octaves, of any piano I've ever played. Sometimes I very nearly finish a whole cigarette while I listen to a final damper-open sustained chord as it very linearly resolves to what seems will never become full silence unless I finally let off the damper. It's easy to pick out the notes of long 12-note arpeggio sustained. After tone and sustain, the touch is critical and I'm happier with my ease of control of all tonal shades from soft to loud that emerges with varied attack (after my own thorough regulation, with rulers, weights, and all).
The biggest Chickerings were never built in large numbers, by the original Boston company. While many of the smaller ones turned out in large numbers by the original company and by the later company (after the American Piano Co. buyout, which itself folded in 1986) were also quite good, they really aren't in the same class as the big hand-made beasts produced during father and sons' absolute hands-on,innovative, it's-my-name-on-it ownership of the original company. Their pianos were regarded by many as among the finest in the world, topping international competitions with some of their great designs. Great artists, like Liszt, owned them alongside their Bosendorfers.
I feel quite fortunate to have found a very remarkable one of this vintage in great condition for a price that almost makes me ashamed, as an almost thief who traded a slight stack of cold crisp green for a once-in-a-lifetime dream. Whenever I speak to the very kind former owner, he always jokes that since I like it so well, perhaps I should give him "some more money". (He had his chance. I'd have gone much higher for this one if he'd rejected my fist offer--actually, I gave him $750 more than he'd agreed to to ease my conscience). The only other one I've seen like this one, also in great condition, sold the first day it was listed for 16 times what I paid a year ago (way more than I could have swung).
After all that admiration for Chickering above, I must say I had absolutely hated the ancient poorly maintained (if at all) Chickerings in my college practice rooms many years ago (as an amateur intruding lurker). Among the dozen or so new Steinways, I couldn't find a bad one (great tech, still at it today, who made them all sound and feel exactly alike--wonderful--can be done!). So overcoming this old bias and finding myself loving a Chickering, of all things, was a total surprise to me. It made me rethink my bias about other makes and want to learn a lot more about a lot of other forgotten pianos as well.
There used to be 1000's of makers and a variety of wonderful voices among them, I'm sure, bearing names all but forgotten. Or worse still, once-famous names that are now stenciled on Asian and American junk, the likes of which does a great disservice to the distiguished heritage built by exacting standards and hard work, the very "heritage" the companies now trade on with mere frail illusion. Most are mere posers like VW bugs with Rolls Royce grills--they don't fool anybody. Chickerings and Webers, indeed.
(Sorry, I'm off on a rant here. I just prefer to call things what they really are, and while I'm perfectly willing to respect things for what they are actually intended to be, I will only do so if they do not pretend to be what they are not. The mere name just doesn't mean a thing. The quality of materials, purity of design, and caliber of craftsmanship are everything.)
Yep, writing is my primary thing and has been for about 30 years. Everything from investigative, in-depth full-page newspaper, to radio news and TV, to pure fiction, 1 produced play (directed it too--learned why Hitchcock called actors cows), 1 produced film script, and on into heavily technical engineering journal writing, with a lot of contract P.R. writing and graphics design and photo journalism thrown in (to keep it interesting and passably profitable). Just got back from a meeting with a new client this evening for a contract to do a full P.R. genesis for an innovative chemical engineering firm that offers some exciting opportunities to get really creative, especially graphically. (Like most writers, I have the proverbial 1000-page "novel" in a firesafe waiting for a rewrite. (That's actually how I planned to spend this year, but I immediately went piano shopping and, well--so much for that.)
Sorry to go on so long. I do occassionally do short posts, really. My shortest ever (elsewhere) was one well chosen word. (I like how Jackie Collins perks a character along blissfully ignorant of the fact she's killing them off in the same paragraph. I need to learn to do that). If I spent this much time on the novel, it'd be rewritten now.
What type of writing do you and pique do? The last major project I did was the film script, with a team of writers (I started as script editor, but it was so bad I insisted we start over) (the play was a better partnership). It was a fun learning experience, but I have too much vanity to let my real name go on something with as many compromises as were required for what I hated and laughed uncontrollably at in the end. Not quite "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Not nearly so good. It's bad enough that friends and family can identify it (as the worst at the last Sundance) by the fact small portions were filmed at my home!