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Performance hours for concert grands #2915184 11/22/19 06:55 PM
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Jack Knuckle Offline OP
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I was struck by a comment on a recent thread that some world-class concert halls replace their Steinway Model D every couple of years because of the amount of usage such a piano receives. Whilst I don't know if that is truth or heresay it did make me wonder how many hours of playing a typical concert hall piano gets before it is retired.

I live in a major European city with a concert hall with an international reputation. Yet I doubt there's more than one piano concerto and a handful of piano recitals per month. The only people allowed to touch the instrument would be first rate pianists. So unless when not on stage the piano is relocated to a practice studio and has the living daylights pummelled out of it several hours a day in practising (and who would be practising on it given the relative paucity of piano concerts in the venue?) why would you need to replace it every few years? How many hours will it have been played in its lifetime?

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Re: Performance hours for concert grands [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2915200 11/22/19 07:42 PM
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I believe the symphony hall in Atlanta has 2 NY D's. By looking at them from the audience, one is less than 10 years old, while the other is more than 10 years old. For most of the concerto work, I tend to see the older one chosen more often, while the newer one seems to get more use as an orchestral ensemble instrument.
The other major performance venue in the metro (solo and chamber performances by top-tier international artists) have 2 Hamburg D's. I think one is about 10 years old, while the other is nearly new. They are voiced differently, which is why performers choose one or the other, not because of any obvious shortcoming.

The number of hours these pianos see use is certainly limited, particularly in venues where every hour is a "billable hour" by the support staff on duty.

On the other hand, pianos in conservatory/college/university settings in concert venues are treated with more variability:
- as many as 3 concerts per day
- daily dress rehearsals
- regular class meetings
- regular ensemble rehearsals
- moved carelessly by non-professional stage crew
- pianos/halls are sometimes kept locked, sometimes not (unauthorized use as practice piano)
- less maintenance (per performance) than professional concert hall pianos
- institutional temperature and humidity control ( = typically awful)

As you can see, it's not unusual for a concert piano in this sort of environment to see 4-5 hours of use per day (including very intensive use as a high-level solo recital or concerto piano), during the busiest parts of each semester.


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Re: Performance hours for concert grands [Re: Jack Knuckle] #2915287 11/23/19 02:41 AM
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OE1FEU Offline
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I only know of two large European cities where concert halls actually afford the luxury of having a permanent piano technician and a decently equipped workshop. In those cities, the variety of brands of available concert grands is distinctly higher than anywhere else. Other halls simply hire the local Steinway dealership or representative, with the result that more often than not an early recommendation for buying a new piano is taken for granted and a necessity, where in most cases it's not.


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