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Angela Hewitt's F278 Fazioli piano destroyed
Old 11th February 2020
  #1
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Angela Hewitt's F278 Fazioli piano destroyed

For those of you who record and/or play piano: Tragedy has struck Angela Hewitt as her trusted moving company destroyed her one-of-a-kind custom four pedal F278 Fazioli. Heartbreaking. My condolences to Ms. Hewitt on her loss. That has to be soul crushing for her.

I've only heard that piano on her recordings. It's an amazing sound. I'm grateful for the experience.

The irony of course is that a similar tragedy came to Glenn Gould when movers destroyed his Steinway, CD-318. Both Gould and Hewitt are baroque masters, and both are Canadians. Gould's search for and match with CD-318 was interesting enough that Katie Hafner wrote a book about it called A Romance on Three Legs. It's as much a biography of the piano as it is of Glenn Gould. Highly recommended read, and very entertaining.

I hope Ms. Hewitt can find a new piano soon. She's got a lot more music in her, at least some of which I hope she continues to record.
Old 11th February 2020
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I am sorry to hear this.

However, piano is a mechanical apparatus, as such it always goes from fantastic to not so as time and usage pile up upon it, albeit slowly. One needs to either re-build the whole mechanism or simply replaced the entire piano after certain amount of usage. This incident could be a blessing in disguise; she may end up with a much better, brand new instrument. Piano is very different from string instruments in this regard. I am sure Fazioli will be more than happy to provide her with a new and better instrument. It is still heart breaking as the accident happens.
Old 11th February 2020
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Even if the movers have insurance coverage, it remains to be seen how much the insurance company will pay for her piano and what it may cost her to obtain a new one. Then there's potentially loss of use in the meantime and who pays for that, and how much?
Old 11th February 2020
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Ms. Hewitt being an ambassador of Fazioli she is incredibly important to Fazioli. I am sure Fazioli will take good care of her which is the same as taking care of themselves. It is the price of doing business for Fazioli.
Old 4th January 2021
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Ms. Hewitt has a new piano finally. 2020 was a grim year, and for this musician it must have been doubly so. Here's hoping she starts new projects this year with her new "best friend", and that she and her new piano stay safe.
Old 4th January 2021
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Just as I said, Fazioli did what they would and should have done for her. Piano is not like a Strad fiddle which is unreplaceable. Piano is a machine and could be built everyday. The new piano will always plays better than the old one. I am glad the insurance company bought her a new piano. All joy.
Old 4th January 2021
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I was watching this with interest -- I've been consulting for a guy who's overseeing the buildout of a gazillionaire-playpen studio where the plan was to hoist a Fazioli through a 36" exterior door and then up and over an 80-Series Neve and through a tiny iso to get it into the live room. Apparently it went well, but I'm glad I wasn't there.
Old 5th January 2021
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One thing that is really interesting is the statement in the news story that "In his factory near Venice, Fazioli and his team built five new grand pianos in the hope that Hewitt would choose one"

It's one thing to build one replacement....but building five to pick from? That is totally amazing customer service.
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks ➑️
One thing that is really interesting is the statement in the news story that "In his factory near Venice, Fazioli and his team built five new grand pianos in the hope that Hewitt would choose one"

It's one thing to build one replacement....but building five to pick from? That is totally amazing customer service.
Even those 3 rejected by Hewitt 'within minutes' during the tryout session would still be acceptable to any serious buyer....just that their particular 'voicing' didn't immediately suit her expectations. Her choice simply highlights how closely the sound and mechanical responsiveness of the instrument are intertwined, for the individual player

It probably applies to any bespoke artisan creation at the human/mechanical interface: hunting bow, racing bike (the sports performance and musical instrument realm in general)

Within the intricate mechanics and possible adjustments of a piano, it's easy to see how a pianist would develop an affinity for a particular calibration of a large set of variables....and want to retain that characteristic in any replacement. Let's also highlight the role her personal tuner (who very likely sets up her tour pianos for her ?) plays.

What's perhaps more surprising is how pianists can adapt to using 'new' and unfamiliar pianos in the various cities and halls they play in...and the tuner would be a key (ha!) person in reducing those discontinuities for the artiste.
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks ➑️
One thing that is really interesting is the statement in the news story that "In his factory near Venice, Fazioli and his team built five new grand pianos in the hope that Hewitt would choose one"

It's one thing to build one replacement....but building five to pick from? That is totally amazing customer service.
don't buy into the endorsement/marketing bs: almost certainly at least 2 of the pianos were already sold/reserved before they were built so there were not 5 instruments built for hewitt alone and even less 'in the hope hewitt would choose one'...
Old 5th January 2021
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Major pianists are taken pretty seriously by the manufacturers, but I am sure "business is business" and they know that "one man's meat is another man's poison". Angela Hewitt's artistic and generational predecessor, Glenn Gould, was particular about his Steinway pianos, as seen in this funny little clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0MZrnuSGGg. Gould's favorite piano, Steinway CD318, was also damaged in transport and despite the factory's best efforts to repair it, he never returned to it. His final Goldberg Variations recording in 1981 was performed on a Yamaha CF11, the piano he eventually chose to replace his beloved CD318. Fazioli are wise to offer Ms. Hewitt a bunch of choices if it keeps her loyal to the brand.
Old 5th January 2021
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It's good to be the Queen.
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjazzdad ➑️
Major pianists are taken pretty seriously by the manufacturers, but I am sure "business is business" and they know that "one man's meat is another man's poison". Angela Hewitt's artistic and generational predecessor, Glenn Gould, was particular about his Steinway pianos, as seen in this funny little clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0MZrnuSGGg. Gould's favorite piano, Steinway CD318, was also damaged in transport and despite the factory's best efforts to repair it, he never returned to it. His final Goldberg Variations recording in 1981 was performed on a Yamaha CF11, the piano he eventually chose to replace his beloved CD318. Fazioli are wise to offer Ms. Hewitt a bunch of choices if it keeps her loyal to the brand.
while we're at it: i came across this (see pic)...
Attached Thumbnails
Angela Hewitt's F278 Fazioli piano destroyed-20210105_213109.jpg  
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➑️
while we're at it: i came across this (see pic)...
Did you now? There's a link to that book in the OP. It's a good read if you're into Gould, pianos, or impossible quests.
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson ➑️
Did you now? There's a link to that book in the OP. It's a good read if you're into Gould, pianos, or impossible quests.
thx, i've seen that - i just wanted to post that i found the book a few days ago at an antiquarian bookshop and was told it's been long out of print, so maybe it's a bit hard to find...
Old 5th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dseetoo ➑️
Piano is not like a Strad fiddle which is unreplaceable. Piano is a machine and could be built everyday. The new piano will always plays better than the old one.
"Piano is a machine". You say that like it's a bad thing. In fact, just about any musical instrument is a machine. That is, "a device consisting of fixed and/or moving parts that modifies energy or motion and transmits it in a more useful form". By this definition a "Strad fiddle" is also a machine. It's just a lot simpler while also being amazingly complex. We now know enough about how a stringed instrument like a violin works, to the point that we can make violins today that are 90+% of the way to a violin from Stradivari, Amati, Guarneri del Gesu, or any of the Cremonese luthiers who produced the very pinnacle of stringed instruments. I heard one violin made out of engineered plastics (a couple of decades ago?) that was just amazing. I could not tell it from a Strad (they had one for comparison, I forget which one it was, and the same musician played them both for the group), but I'm not anywhere near a good enough critical listener for my opinion to count for much, especially on this level.

But I don't think we understand pianos to this point. Modern pianos are much more complex than 1700's violins. It's questionable if we've even reached "peak piano" yet, while "peak violin" seems to have occurred in the early 1700s.

I'm just glad we've moved on from the time of Liszt destroying pianos during concerts. I doubt he could do that today (but it would be interesting to watch him try). I mean, I've seen Andre Watts playing a Steinway D from just a couple of rows back -- playing it with his knuckles -- wailing at it. Loudest piano playing I've ever heard. Didn't seem to bother the piano, which maintained its tune through the rest of the evening.

A piano may be a machine, but they vary from sample to sample at least as much as a classic violin. So I'm not in agreement that a first class piano "could be built everyday". This is what Steinway, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, etc. strive for. But they don't seem to think they have reached that level of precision yet. For what little it's worth, neither do I.

And this is why I was sad to see an excellent piano dropped and destroyed, and was happy to see that Ms. Hewitt was able to find a piano that suited her.
Old 5th January 2021
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A Fazioli costs $200,000 brand new. A Strad on the other hand costs $10-20 millions, if it ever becomes available. If I want a Fazioli I can order it today and get it delivered within a year. Try that with a Strad. Pianos simply do not hold any intrinsic values like a fancy violin does. Pianos depreciate their value as they age. No one should get sentimental over a piano. I am sure Miss. Hewitt is just as happy, if not happier with her new instrument.
Old 6th January 2021
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On a loftier philosophical level, I'm happier seeing Ms Hewitt adapting to imposed change...which was thrust upon her in big measure last year. The Guardian article cites her disappointment at the loss of her favourite, long-term companion piano...her acceptance that adaptation to a new one was necessary...and her participation in active auditioning steps to replace it with one closest in sound and responsiveness.

She also engaged in from-home online recitals...to maintain connection with her audiences, to partially offset her concert cancellations. Change is inevitable, stasis is an artificial and unattainable condition....Ms Hewitt has had to do her share of adapting, like the rest of we schmucks. She could have shunned the world and retreated...Gould-like...but instead chose to rise to the challenges.

She'll be a stronger and more resilient human because of it. Her plight shouldn't have evoked pity, I doubt she'd welcome that. We can all empathise with another's loss...overcoming it with hope and determination is the heroic choice she's made. Was there really choice involved anyway?

She's no fragile Faberge egg...and that gets my respect !
Old 6th January 2021
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I was in New York at the AES. We were walking back from lunch and stopped to watch as they lifted a grand piano into an 8 story apartment. Just as the piano reached the 8th floor the rope snapped and the piano dropped 8 stories to the cement. I wish I had a video and audio of the "explosion" when the piano hit the pavement. It was heart breaking to see a beautiful instrument destroyed. We walked over to the pile of wood and metal just as the owner came out of the building. I learned some new swear words after listening to the owner scream at the moving company foreman.
Old 6th January 2021
  #20
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I once asked a very famous pianist at a party what he would do with the money if he had won a big lottery as that particular week’s big national lottery had gone up to over 300 million dollars, he thought for a moment and said he would use it to pay for it to listen to the sound of a Steinway being dropped from the top of the empire state building and landing on the street; the only sound he had never heard from a piano, he explained.

Piano being dropped while being moved is more often than you might think. It even happened to Horowitz's piano. As far as I know that had happened more than once at Carnegie Hall. A Steinway D weights 1300LB and usually is moved by only two people with a wooden dolly. Accidents do happen, unfortunately.
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe ➑️
I was in New York at the AES. We were walking back from lunch and stopped to watch as they lifted a grand piano into an 8 story apartment. Just as the piano reached the 8th floor the rope snapped and the piano dropped 8 stories to the cement. I wish I had a video and audio of the "explosion" when the piano hit the pavement. It was heart breaking to see a beautiful instrument destroyed. We walked over to the pile of wood and metal just as the owner came out of the building. I learned some new swear words after listening to the owner scream at the moving company foreman.
last year i mixed a few concerts of an orchestra performing a composition by simon steen-andersen which is based on samples of a grand piano which was thrown down a few floors!
major difference to what you experienced is that in this case, things were done on purpose and documentented in video and audio - the most amazing fact is how the piano still sounded after getting heavily trashed...
Old 6th January 2021
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I don't know if they are using any different materials in building new pianos, but all the actions I've seen in older pianos were made of wood. The problem with wood is each piece is a little different depending on the growing conditions of the tree not to mention expansion and contraction depending on heat and humidity.

Then there's the issue of there being a lot of moving parts.

Precision cutting wood isn't so easy, either.

Does anyone have a link to how they are making pianos these days? CNC milling or all handmade parts???
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks ➑️
Does anyone have a link to how they are making pianos these days? CNC milling or all handmade parts???
There's a documentary called Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 which came out in 2007. Shows you how Steinway does it.
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➑️

Within the intricate mechanics and possible adjustments of a piano, it's easy to see how a pianist would develop an affinity for a particular calibration of a large set of variables....and want to retain that characteristic in any replacement. Let's also highlight the role her personal tuner (who very likely sets up her tour pianos for her ?) plays.

What's perhaps more surprising is how pianists can adapt to using 'new' and unfamiliar pianos in the various cities and halls they play in...and the tuner would be a key (ha!) person in reducing those discontinuities for the artiste.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2manyrocks ➑️
I don't know if they are using any different materials in building new pianos, but all the actions I've seen in older pianos were made of wood. The problem with wood is each piece is a little different depending on the growing conditions of the tree not to mention expansion and contraction depending on heat and humidity.

Then there's the issue of there being a lot of moving parts.

Precision cutting wood isn't so easy, either.
Just to add 2c to the discussion, IME the Tuner can indeed be "key".
Yes, beyond tuning preferences, Pianos are more adjustable than most people realize, and a skilled Tuner can often change the "feel" and even the "tone" to be more to the Player's liking. (I am not a piano tech, so excuse me if those are not the proper terms).
I've seen many piano Tuners at work, one in particular was outstanding, sadly he has passed away so I will only give his first name, Peter. Had learned the trade from his father in the family piano business. Anyway, several times I have seen him completely dismantle and remove the "guts" (action?) of a Steinway grand, make adjustments either related to what he felt/heard, or, at the request of the Artist slated to perform on the instrument.
The first time I saw him do this, day of show, perhaps mere minutes from rehearsal, or even Doors, I was really surprised, and truly impressed (and maybe a bit worried haha. Major artist, i.e. Herbie Hancock, in the Green Room, and the piano in a hundred pieces all over the stage haha). But apparently, if the Tuner is skilled enough, this is not all that unusual. I remain truly impressed though.
And RIP Peter. Honor to have known you.

Last edited by edva; 6th January 2021 at 06:08 PM.. Reason: +.
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edva ➑️
... the piano in a hundred pieces all over the stage haha). But apparently, if the Tuner is skilled enough, this is not all that unusual. I remain truly impressed though.
I showed up to set up a big orchestral date at around 4:30 am one day and found the exact same thing, tiny bits of piano everywhere, only in total darkness. The tuner, Gene Manfrini, was blind so I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. But I did have reason to be surprised a little later when he asked me to turn all the lights on, full up.

ME: "Would it be out of line for me to ask why, Gene?"

GENE: "Because I'm cold."
Old 7th January 2021
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3 summers ago I worked for her, for her live concerts. She has a beautiful home.
Old 7th January 2021
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If you ever want to invest into a fancy piano, either as a pianist or a venue, make sure you will have an equably fancy piano technician available who can take care of the instrument for you around the clock. It is really true that the piano technician is the person makes the piano sounding great, or horrible. A race car driver can never win a race without a fantastic garage crew.
Old 16th January 2021 | Show parent
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Watson ➑️
There's a documentary called Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 which came out in 2007. Shows you how Steinway does it.
Just finished watching this. Thank you!!!
Old 16th January 2021 | Show parent
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You're most welcome.

Making a piano is an intricate and exacting process. Yet, each piano that goes through the process is different. Each emerges with its own personality. Interesting, that, at least to me.
Old 18th January 2021
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The Making of a Steinway - A Steinway & Sons Factory Tour Narrated by John Steinway

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAIn...ture=emb_title

And

Fazioli Pianos 4K

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2NRLf9Wigw
πŸ“ Reply

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