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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2613375 02/10/17 08:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
The precise state of Horowitz's piano would have varied greatly over the years even when Horowitz was there to guide the technician. Suffice it say that with out Horowitz there to "drive" the situation, the piano will revert to "standard".


Even though Horowitz was guiding the nuances and he's no longer with us, surely they could have recorded the basic parameters like hammer and touch weight and kept the regulation specs? It might not have been exactly to Horowitz' taste, but it would have preserved it to the degree that a piano claiming to be Horowitz' piano would require. It should represent his basic principles as a player. A piano that is advertised as "Horowitz's piano" has an obligation not to be standard. It's false advertising. Ed, it sounds like Horowitz was not far off your light hammer principles? Maybe you should be involved in it?

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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Horowitz67 #2613396 02/10/17 11:50 PM
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One of the ways Horowitz played piano was to use the shift pedal somewhat unconventionally. He would play the melody notes strongly while the shift pedal was fully engaged in some passages. Many pianos do not respond well to these demands.

I never had the honor of preparing a piano for Horowitz. I have had several conversations with Franz Mohr about his work for Horowitz.


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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
ando #2613489 02/11/17 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by ando
It might not have been exactly to Horowitz' taste, but it would have preserved it to the degree that a piano claiming to be Horowitz' piano would require. It should represent his basic principles as a player. A piano that is advertised as "Horowitz's piano" has an obligation not to be standard. It's false advertising.


ando,

I feel that representing it as what Horowitz loved best (which is what the tour does) is misleading, especially to young pianists who may use a piano like this as a tonal reference for their preference. Frankly, I did not like the piano last time I saw it, but personal aesthetics aside, there is a chance to maintain a somewhat historic piano.

Now, I need to add that I was told a story by a European manufacturer some years ago. He told me that Horowitz was developing a wandering eye for other pianos. He was exploring other instruments privately and was enjoying what he saw. After all, Horowitz was an artist and artists seek. That is what they should do.

The reason Steinway gave him a custom piano (that was not "Steinway-esque) to use was to keep him in the fold. Although I cannot state this as fact - the story made perfect sense to me.

My 2 cents,


Rich Galassini
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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Horowitz67 #2613757 02/12/17 11:29 AM
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I played the Horowitz piano twice, both times at Steinway Hall in NYC. The first time was when it first became available to persons on Steinway's list. I noted the nasal sound and the original condition. The case was very much beat up with finish rubbed completely off in many places, the keyboard had some wear as well. The second time I was supposed to have the piano for 15 minutes and no one showed up after me so I had it for three hours and became well acquainted with it. The action was light but not uncontrollable and not really extraordinarily light in my opinion. The treble had a very nice singing quality to it but I didn't think the bass was great. Under FFF if reminded me of a stereo system that put out more power than the speakers can handle. Not sure if anyone can relate to that comment but thats what came to mind. The next time I saw the piano was when Franz Mohr did a talk at Steinway Long Island and brought the Horowitz piano with him. On seeing the piano I noticed immediately that the key board had been replaced. I looked inside and saw that the strings had been replaced. I asked Mr. Mohr if it was the original soundboard and it was, original since the 1940's. There were a few pianists present to play for the audience and it was immediately apparent that the piano no longer had that distinctive nasal sound. It was no longer unique and sounded like a typical New York model D.

Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
LJC #2614028 02/13/17 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by LJC
.... I noticed immediately that the key board had been replaced. I looked inside and saw that the strings had been replaced. ....


That reminds me of the story of the lumberjack who was using the same axe his grandfather brought from the old country -- only it had had three new heads and eight new handles..... ;-)



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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Horowitz67 #2614174 02/14/17 02:38 AM
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I tuned the piano twice in the late 1970s for his performances in Portland, Oregon. To me the sound was thin and bright -- but exceptionally clear. (That evaluation was based on my exposure to other pianos of the era. I'm not sure I'd describe it the same way today.) The action was very light -- Ed McMorrow would have loved the hammers! -- and very "fast." Under instructions, I only tuned it, I did not pull the action so was only able to look at it through the strings.

It was my impression that only Horowitz could really get the most out of the piano. It was set up, regulated and voiced, just for him. Another pianist might have been able to master the action over time but it was unusual enough to be off-putting to the several pianists I watched playing it off stage. But when he was sitting in front of the piano it was obvious that there was an almost magical synergy between the two.

It was unfortunate, I think, that Steinway felt it necessary to replace the action in this piano. It is still presented as Horowitz's piano, but in reality, in its current condition I'm confident he wouldn't have liked it at all.

ddf

Last edited by Del; 02/14/17 02:39 AM.

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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
agraffe #2614356 02/14/17 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by agraffe
Katie Hafner wrote a brilliant book chronicling in great detail Glenn Gould's relationship with Steinway and one Steinway D in particular (CD318), A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano.

I found this book absolutely fascinating. Gould corresponded at length with Steinway in his attempts to find a piano he was happy with. He loved the light action on the Chickering he grew up with. Steinway seems to have never really tried to set up a piano action to his preferences—Gould was just fortunate that he happened on CD318, a pre-WWII instrument in his hometown of Toronto, that met his needs. After it was irreparably damaged in transport, he never found another Steinway that suited him, which is why he ended up using a Yamaha for his final recording of the Goldberg Variation.

The author does suggest that Franz Mohr knew that Horrowitz's piano, which also had an exceptionally light action, might be perfect for Gould, but did not even raise the possibility with the reclusive Horrowitz, who had never been a fan of the eccentric Gould.

What puzzled me was that Seinway seemed either uninterested in, or incapable of, replicating that action for Gould, even though they were very upset when he recorded on a Yamaha. I kept thinking what a tragedy it was that Gould did not have someone like David Stanwood to work with, to really give him the piano of his dreams.

And it is horrifying that Steinway would reset the action on Horrowitz's piano to a standard Steinway touch, eliminating a major aspect of what Horrowitz had valued in it. It reminds me of the story that Steinway bought back Joseph Hoffman's piano after his death and destroyed the custom action with smaller-scaled keyboard that they had created for the small-handed virtuoso.

Vive la difference!

Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Corvus #2614454 02/14/17 08:45 PM
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Corvus:

I wondered how long it would take for someone to remember the Hoffman pianos. Now, I have questions about THEM: there were TWO pianos - one in the 57th Street basement and one at The Curtis.

It's possible that he had one of them with him in California until his death. But they are both gone now, unless the bellies survive somewhere, shorn of his special lid and fallboard design, and with the actions having standard keys.

I wonder if anyone knows what their numbers were ? But then again, doesn't S&S re-number them when they leave the basement for sale ?
It seems incredible that no one had the vision to preserve one of those pianos.

Isn't there a story about the Erard Coy. files being quite wantonly destroyed ? They would certainly have made fascinating reading/study.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

P.S. It probably should be noted that JH had a notoriously difficult personality. HE may well have insisted on the pianos being destroyed.

Last edited by Karl Watson; 02/14/17 08:48 PM.
Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Horowitz67 #2614481 02/14/17 09:56 PM
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Former Head Tone Regulator at NY Steinway factory Joe Biscelgie told me they had two Hoffmann Model D actions with the narrower keyboard hanging around the factory until they, (not Joe) finally decided to toss them in the mid-1980's.

I think the powers to be felt that no one would want to buy them so let's dump em.

On the Gould topic; Mr. Gould';s extremely eccentric and at times quite hostile and litigious relationship with NY Steinway probably preclude him being pampered like Horowitz.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Horowitz67 #2614533 02/14/17 10:33 PM
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I had the rare chance to play on his Steinway twice over a 15 year period or so while S&S toured his piano across the country after his death. I don't recall the sound being different... Perhaps I was too excited to notice. I do remember a couple of things about the instrument... I remember seeing some scratches on the fall board where his fingernails probably had scratched it... just normal wear and tear from years of playing, I guess... Also, I remember how fluid the action was (I tried out the E major sonata by Scarlatti on it)... happy memories... Was this the piano he took to Moscow in 1986?


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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Horowitz67 #2614567 02/15/17 12:36 AM
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Only played the Horowitz D once, back in the 80s, and recorded on it.

To me the action was so subtle and light you could "merely blow on it and it would play concertos." When I played the Horowitz, I was able to get articulations and complexities of voice from that instrument that truly amazed. Even playing music that was quite familiar to me, there was nuance I never imagined. It's disturbing to hear that the piano was subsequently heavily modified based on the above posts. I say "a river of Kool-Aid runs thru the Steinway mentality. So many people involved with Steinway seem to drink it and most are certain it can cure cancer."

The experience led me to consult with Bill Spurlock on how to reduce friction on my own 1921 Steinway 6'4" A-3. I replaced the action & hammers with Renner, basically turned it into a Hamburg Steinway, using every imaginable technique to reduce friction. After regulation and voicing, the results were (and remain) spectacular.


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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2614591 02/15/17 01:42 AM
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Ed:

When you write "toss" or "dump" do you refer to the keysticks or to the entire action ?

Incidentally, there was a tradition at Curtis that Hoffman's inventive genius was behind the development of the Accelerated Action.

Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Karl Watson #2614601 02/15/17 02:12 AM
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Karl,
I think they threw the whole action out, both of them. Hoffman's action also had a slightly different location for the hammer center pin and the knuckle position from what Joe told me. Made it very light and low inertia.

Hoffman was schooled as an engineer and I think he played a significant role in trying to get Steinway to control the inertia of the action.

The Accelerated Action Patent claimed several features. The half-round key balance fulcrum and the leading pattern of the keys was done with the key leads placed closer to the key fulcrum.

However if the hammers are too heavy, you end up with key-leads all along the front half of the key-stick which defeats the reduced moment of inertia they wanted to attain claimed in the patent.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2614759 02/15/17 02:38 PM
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Ed and Karl,

Not to go too off topic here, but Sergei Rachmaninoff and his good friend Josef Hofmann - who was schooled as an engineer as you mentioned - also had a great deal of interest in things mechanical... from the Ampico and Duo-Art systems they recorded rolls for and owned, respectively, to a love for things Aeronautical... which included Sikorsky Helicopters. Did you know that Sergei Rachmaninoff was named the first Vice President of Sikorsky in the 1920's, personally investing $5,000 USD (worth $100,000 $USD today) in Igor Sikorsky's first commercial helicopter the "S-29A", and launching Igor's career here in the U.S.. There was one famous time, when Sergei even brought his friend Josef Hofmann to the factory to inspect progress in his engineering investment! BTW - Igor Sikorsky in turn became great friends with Sergei - attending his concerts with his family at Carnegie Hall. Not sure if Igor had a similar friendship with Vladimir Horowitz or not...

Igor Sikorsky & Sergei_Rachmaninoff


Jason Solomonides
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Re: The Horowitz Steinway- How would you describe its sound?
wolfgangmeister #2614785 02/15/17 04:15 PM
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Jason:

I knew it wouldn't be long before you weighed-in to explain the meaning of life, the universe and everything for the poor unwashed, whilst, of course, having the LAST word.

But, you've given us some fascinating info. Thanks.

just
Karl Watson,
Staten Island, NY

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