I've posted before about the piano that I was completely smitten with, when as a young man, I went Inter-railing ('backpacking' with a month-long European rail pass) around Europe on next to no money, sleeping on overnight trains whenever possible to save on youth hostel costs.
In Vienna, despite wearing ragged jeans and smelly T shirt, I was permitted to 'try out' the beautiful BÃ¶sendorfer Imperial in its showroom in BÃ¶sendorferstraÃŸe (of course). I continued to try it out for the whole afternoon, until well after closing time. The elegant gentleman who let me loose on it eventually had to inform me that the showroom was meant to be closed half an hour ago, but he loved listening to me play.....
I was so lost in playing it that I didn't realize I had an audience who peered in (& presumably listened
) through the big glass window, behind which the Imperial was placed in prime position to be admired from outside.
Though I was clearly in no position to consider buying any piano, let alone the Imperial, the gentleman pressed into my hand the glossy brochure with the photos showing the Imperial photographed in front of the resplendent SchÃ¶nbrunn Palace, before wishing me well on my travels. I've kept that lovely brochure to this day.....
I've played many more BÃ¶sendorfers since, including the new 280VC when it first arrived in the UK, but none quite came up to that Imperial's standard in terms of tonal allure and smooth liquid action. Though, of course, the circumstances of that encounter might have something to do with it. There was something that was so Viennese
about the Imperial, that it felt so right to be playing it for the first time in Vienna, where so many of the greatest composers made their home.
I went on to play Wolfie's fortepiano in Salzburg and Edvard's Steinway B in Troldhaugen on that trip. Both were memorable in their own way - after all, it's not often you get to play on the same instrument that your long-dead composer idols once played on.