The life of a piano

Have you got a second-hand piano in your living room? Do you know anything about its background before it came into your possession? Perhaps you know of a piano that has been passed through a family for generations, that has been played by musicians visiting the area, or that has been enjoyed by hundreds of primary school kids?

For inspiration, we’ve listed some fascinating piano stories from around the world. Needless to say, your piano stories don’t have to make the headlines like the examples below! We’re interested in hearing about the pianos that you know of in East London and their stories big and small, whether they’re in your local school, community centre, pub or back lane.

Kenny Campbell carrying the piano up the mountain.

Kenny Campbell carrying the piano up the mountain.

The hills are alive…
In 2006, mountaineers were astonished to find a piano near the top of Ben Nevis! The mystery deepened when they found a biscuit wrapper within the piano dating its expedition to 1986, yet its story was only revealed when a Scottish woodcutter claimed he had carried it up the mountain for charity. When he got to the top, he marked his achievement by playing Scotland the Brave!

Underwater music
Another piano was found in Scotland’s river Tay, which was apparently discovered completely intact and capable of being played. It was later discovered that the piano was placed in the river to feature in a video shoot for a local musician.

A beautiful photo of an abandoned piano overgrown with nasturshums. Image: Jacob Whittaker.

A beautiful photo of an abandoned piano overgrown with nasturshums. Image: Jacob Whittaker.

Not all is what it seems
The piano that featured in the 1942 film Casablanca sold for £370 000 at a Sotheby’s auction in December 2012. The piano actually fell short in that it wasn’t a piano at all, but in fact a piano prop with only 58 keys!

The musical Midas
When a German piano manufacturer received an 18th-century piano from an antiques dealer in Paris, he was later informed that it could be the same instrument that Mozart performed when he was in Strasbourg. Before its past was revealed, the owner was planning on disposing of it on Ebay for a fraction of its now-estimated worth.

If you know of a piano that could be of interest, send your stories to: info@spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk by Tuesday 21 January, 12pm. We’ll collect the entries and open an online vote so you can choose your favourite story. This is a brilliant chance to be involved in the process of a new work and to learn about local history through the objects around us, so gather your stories and we’ll look forward to hearing from you!

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