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Owners’ Magazine

Issue One 2013

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Owners’ Magazine Published by Faircount Media Group European Headquarters 5 Ella Mews, Hampstead, London NW3 2NH, UK tel: +44 (0)20 7428 7000 fax: +44 (0)20 7117 3338 email: publisher@faircount.co.uk North American Headquarters 701 North West Shore Blvd, Tampa, Florida 33609, USA tel: +1 (813) 639 1900 fax: +1 (813) 639 4344 email: publisher@faircount.com Asia-Pacific Headquarters Level 21, Tower 2, 101 Grafton Street, Sydney, NSW 2022, Australia tel: +61 (0)2 8063 4800 fax: +61 (0)2 8580 5047 email: publisher@faircount.com.au

Publishers Peter M Antell, Ross W Jobson Consultant Editors Anthony Gilroy Sabine Höpermann Editor Tim Glynne-Jones

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Chief Writers Jessica Duchen, Inge Kjemtrup

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Contributors Luca Caballero, Vince Coveleskie, David Kettle, Chris Maillard, Tim McCann, Linda Parker, Francesca Twinn

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Production Coordinator Colin Davidson

Photography As credited

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Printed in the USA Unless otherwise credited, photography provided courtesy of Steinway & Sons archive. ©Copyright 2013 Faircount Media Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial content in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Faircount Media Group does not assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor the quality or deliverability of the products themselves. Reproduction of articles and photographs, in whole or in part, contained herein is prohibited without express written consent of the publisher, with the exception of reprinting for news media use.

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Steinway & Sons | ISSUE ONE 2013

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contents

Contents

Cover: Charm of the Dragon, a Steinway Commemorative Edition piano, which was designed by Chinese artist Tian Jiaqing

13 Publisher’s foreword The Music 14 Steinway news

New Steinway Artists, Lin records Broadway classics, Steinway employee celebrates 50 years, Lang Lang at 30

24 Hidden Britten Turning the spotlight on Benjamin Britten as pianist and his sparse and largely overlooked piano compositions

32 Competitive edge Prize winners from different generations recall their competition experiences and the effect they had on their careers as professional pianists

Below: Benjamin Britten, a pianist of understated prowess, p24

38 Troubled waters Hurricane damage, leaking pipes or just too much humidity – what can you do when moisture gets a grip on your prized piano?

42 All-Steinway Schools Celebrations as the roster tops the 150 mark, plus a landmark move for Puerto Rico’s aspiring pianists

50 Ain’t nothing like the real thing The story of the Motown piano, restored by Steinway in New York with a little help from a friend

54 Personal service A look at the spectacular bespoke creations of Steinway’s first ever Visual Artist in Residence, Lynx

56 Breathing fire The first Steinway & Sons Commemorative Edition piano to be sold in China fetches over a million dollars

58 Tradition meets innovation This issue’s tales from the dealers include a special delivery in New Delhi and a clever development from one of Steinway’s oldest dealers in the US

Photography: Getty Images

62 Steinway Personalities Daniel Barenboim Menahem Pressler Jeremy Denk Till Fellner Francesco Piemontesi

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contents

Contents The Good Life 72 European tour For any music lover planning a tour of the Continent, read our guide to its musical meccas and the nearby festivals taking place this summer

82 Music to your ears Some call it science, others call it art; either way, acoustic design is the seemingly magic element that can make the difference between a good concert hall and a great one

90 Fascinating rhythm Why do we like to move in time? And how has this helped us become the dominant species on Earth?

94 Sharp or flat? After years of being ravaged by the digital revolution, what’s the prognosis for the music business as a vehicle for sound investment?

98 Timber! Wood, the ultimate construction material, is very much in vogue for interiors, exteriors and outbuildings alike

104 A question of taste How to develop your sensory perception, with advice from two experts in fine wine and spirits

109 Big is beautiful Tribal, ethnic, symbolic and colourful – that’s the headline trend for jewellery this spring and summer

114 I looked over Jordan

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contents

Owners’ Magazine

Publisher’s foreword Welcome to this edition of Steinway & Sons Owners’ Magazine, the first for the year in which we celebrate the company’s 160th anniversary. The theme of this issue is ‘perception’ and it is a theme that takes us into some very interesting territory indeed. You will find features on acoustics (p82), rhythm (p90) and taste (p104), three decidedly nebulous subjects but all connected by a single thread… you guessed it, perception. The science behind these specialisms is quite fascinating. Did you know, for example, that our facility for rhythm and dance is shared by birds and crickets – and barely any other species at all? And it’s considered to be a vital factor in our domination of the planet. So keep the music playing! But the common factor that emerges from these features is the way in which all our senses influence one another to create our overall perception. For example, the way we hear a sound will be influenced by the colour on the walls; the way we taste a wine will be influenced by the sights, sounds and smells around us. Human perception is a complex beast but it can fall short of giving the full picture. Benjamin Britten, who was born one hundred years ago this November, is generally perceived as a brilliant composer and conductor, but a pianist? It’s not what you expect, but as our profile starting on p24 reveals, Britten was a fine pianist who also wrote some wonderful piano music. It was his choice that this didn’t become the highlight of his career, but it’s well worth exploring his small handful of piano compositions. Piano competitions are a subject that divides perceptions. Some see them as a circus that can distract the contestants from the real business of building a playing career but, starting on p32, we have the testimony of some highly acclaimed past prizewinners, who attest to the fact that success in a competition can, and often does, lead to even greater success on the world stage. From a piano maker that, throughout its 160 years in the business, has always sought to be perceived as a mark of genuine quality, we hope you enjoy the thought-provoking content we offer in this magazine.

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news

New stars join Steinway firmament

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Clockwise from above: new Steinway Artists Regina Spektor, Jason Moran, Carter Burwell, Jeremy Denk, Rufus Wainwright

New York City’s East Village with her ability to tell stories through piano with remarkable flare. Spektor exclaimed, “I am so excited to become a Steinway Artist. Though I have played all my shows on Steinways for years – and loved the instruments and the people I’ve worked with – it is so nice to make it official!” Every Steinway Artist owns a Steinway piano and has chosen to perform exclusively on a Steinway. Each one is carefully considered by evaluating their commitment to the brand and superior musical quality of composition and performance that has become synonymous with the Steinway name. None of them are paid for endorsing Steinway & Sons pianos. n The complete list of concert artists and ensembles throughout the world who bear the coveted title of Steinway Artist can be found at www.steinway. com/artists.

Photography: Shervin Lainez; Dean Parker; Michael Wilson; Barry J Holmes; Richard Bowditch

2012 saw five esteemed pianists from the worlds of classical, jazz, pop and film music join the exulted ranks of Steinway Artists. Concert pianist Jeremy Denk, 42, who we feature on page 66, has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and London. Steinway has been his preferred piano maker for many years, as he explained. “A piano is the way a pianist speaks to the world and so you need to feel you have an ally, a friend that supports you and that allows your thoughts to become sound. Steinway is it for me. It’s the only piano that has this kind of centred sound that I can mould in interesting and expressive ways. It’s the only brand I feel comfortable playing on.” Carter Burwell, 57, is one of the hottest properties in film music, with more than sixty film scores to his name. As well as composing scores for the Coen brothers’ films, his recent hits include Where The Wild Things Are, The Blind Side and the Twilight sagas, all written on a Steinway piano. Jazz pianist and composer Jason Moran, 38, was dubbed by Rolling Stone magazine “the most provocative thinker in current jazz”. He has certainly earned his stripes since grabbing the public attention in 1999 with his album Soundtrack to Human Motion, yet he still finds inspiration in new things: one example being his recently acquired Steinway Model M, which he said “marks the first time I’ve owned a piano that I actually feel is inspiring to play”. Pop singer and composer Rufus Wainwright has been inspired by Steinways since he was a child. “I grew up playing my grandmother’s 100-year-old Steinway,” says the man described by Elton John as “the greatest songwriter on the planet”. “That instrument is still the spiritual centre of our family’s musical legacy,” adds Wainwright, whose famous musical family includes sister Martha and his parents, the folk singers Kate McGarrigle and Loudon Wainwright III. Fellow pop singersongwriter Regina Spektor built her following in

news

In the grotto Daynes Music, of Midvale, Utah, one of the oldest Steinway dealerships in the world, recently celebrated its 150th birthday. Part of the festivities included a wonderfully atmospheric Grotto Concert at the Moab Music Festival, which Daynes has supplied with Steinway pianos since its inception. For the concert, a piano was transported by boat down the Colorado River and the performing artists included Festival Music Director Michael Barrett, whom Skip Daynes, President of Daynes Music, originally encouraged to become a Steinway Artist. For more on Daynes Music, see Dealers’ Tales on p58

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news

Lin gives Broadway hits the virtuoso treatment Taiwan-born Steinway Artist Jenny Lin has followed up her acclaimed 2011 release Silent Music with a second recording on the Steinway & Sons label, entitled Get Happy: Virtuoso Show Tunes for Piano. The album features favourite tunes by composers such as Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim, as arranged for solo piano by such famous pianists as Earl Wild, Dick Hyman, André Previn, Stephen Prutsman and Stephen Hough. “What sets these arrangements apart is that they are all by performing pianists,” says Lin, who is renowned for her subtle touch, commanding technique and adventurous taste in modern and contemporary repertoire. “I have always admired pianists who can play and compose and I wanted to pay tribute to them with this album. They are our present day versions of Liszt and Busoni. “I remember hearing a lot of these tunes when I was a child in Taiwan and loving them,” she adds. “People from any culture and era can appreciate

them. The songs are so well written, so warm and welcoming, so delightful as pure music. George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and the other composers on this album were genius melodists. They created a universal language that everyone can embrace. And a successful arrangement can only enhance the greatness of this music, giving us a new and surprising way to appreciate it.” Following the release of Get Happy, Lin spent the last two months of 2012 out on the road, performing songs from the album for music lovers in Steinway showrooms across the US. n Get Happy: Virtuoso Show Tunes for Piano (Cat. No.30011) is available from www.arkivmusic.com.

Steinway & Sons prides itself on the quality of its craftsmen and on keeping those artisans as loyal members of the Steinway family for life. Many people have given decades of faithful service to the company over its 160-year history, and last September saw the celebration of fifty years at the New York factory for one of its legendary characters, Wally Boot. Wally was born two blocks from the factory in Steinway Street and at 18 he joined the company. His first job was putting the little felt buttons in place under the keys but over time he has learnt to make every component of a Steinway piano. Today his job is to check the tone of each instrument before it leaves the factory, making fine adjustments to ensure that every note is even and resonates with that noted Steinway quality. In the ’60s, Wally was a hippie with a taste in Harley Davidsons. Today he has a fine appreciation of pianos and piano music, thanks in no small part to one of his co-workers. “I always wanted to play Moonlight Sonata,” he explains. “I had a piano tuner, Victor, and he taught me fifteen minutes, once a week. We would go through one measure but I had the whole week to practise. Three dollars for one week.” And so Wally learnt to play Moonlight Sonata. Looking back over his half century at Steinway & Sons, Wally has lost none of his enthusiasm for what he does. If anything, it grows stronger by the year. “It was just a regular job, now it’s a passion,” he says. “I love pianos. I love making pianos. I love people playing pianos.” n

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Photography: Chris Payne

Boot puts stamp on 50 years at Steinway

news

Ever wondered how much manpower is required to lift a grand piano? Fans at the game between West Virginia University and Texas Christian University on 3 November were able to see for themselves, as the WVU Marching Band came onto the field at Milan Puskar Stadium carrying a Steinway & Sons concert grand piano. The piano was then put down and played by WVU’s music professor James ‘Doc’ Miltenberger (pictured right). The spectacle was part of WVU’s ‘All Keyed Up’ campaign, to become an All-Steinway School by raising $4million to buy sixty-five new Steinway pianos. n

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Photography: Chris Southard, CDS Media Solutions

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news

Lang Lang turns 30 with celebration of youth Above: Lang Lang conducts the audience and children as they sing him Happy Birthday Right: Herbie Hancock joins him for a two-piano arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue Below: Lang Lang gives a special performance at the opening of The Langham, Shenzhen

of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for two pianos, for which Lang Lang was joined on stage by jazz legend Herbie Hancock. The concert was sponsored by Telefónica. n

On 18 December 2012, Lang Lang gave an intimate performance for two hundred guests at the newly opened hotel The Langham, Shenzhen. The hotel, which opened in October, is the first move into southern China for the Langham Hospitality Group, for which Lang Lang is a global ambassador. In 2011 they launched the Langham Lang Lang Music Scholarship, aimed at discovering and nurturing the talent of the future. It’s first winner was 8-year-old prodigy Li Zhongxin from Hong Kong. shenzhen.langhamhotels.com

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Photography: Getty Images; Akai Chenke

After all he has achieved, it’s hard to believe that Lang Lang is only 30. But the one-time child prodigy, who has played for presidents and royalty, knows how to celebrate, as he proved at a spectacular 30th birthday concert at the O2 World stadium in Berlin on 15 June last year. As has become one of his trademarks, Lang Lang was joined on stage by fifty children from around the world, who performed Schubert’s Marche Militaire No.1 in D major and later serenaded him with a chorus of Happy Birthday. Other highlights included Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B-flat minor and an arrangement

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Obituaries

Charles Rosen 1927-2012

Mihaela Ursuleasa

Brigitte Engerer

Romanian pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa was only 33 years old when she died in August of an apparent cerebral haemorrhage. Her tragically early death was made all the more poignant by the fact that she left a 6-year-old daughter and that her career as a concert pianist and as a chamber music player was beginning to take flight. Ursuleasa had cancelled concerts in the week before her death. Born into a musical family in Brasov, Transylvania, in 1978, Ursuleasa took up the piano at the age of 5. With a demanding teacher who insisted she practise ten hours a day, she was soon winning competitions. At 13 she received a scholarship from the Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and went on to study at the Vienna Conservatory for several years. At 16 she won the Haskil Competition and more or less retired from the competition circuit. She wowed the critics early on in her career, including the often-sceptical Harold Schonberg, who wrote in 1996, “Well, well. A competition winner who can convey strength without relentless pounding. Here we have a real pianist, and we shall be hearing from her.” Ursuleasa’s debut recording, Piano & Forte, received the Echo Klassik award in 2010, and her second album, Romanian Rhapsody, was released in 2011. n

Born in Tunis but of Maltese descent, Brigitte Engerer built a career that combined elements of two distinctive national playing styles: the powerful Russian and the clearer French. Her specialities were Schumann, Liszt and the great Russian repertoire, and she passed on her love for both styles to her students at the Paris Conservatoire. Ten days before her death from cancer last June, she performed the Schumann Piano Concerto in her beloved Paris. Engerer was a student with Lucette Descaves at the Paris Conservatoire, where she won the major prizes and went on to take one of the top accolades at the Marguerite Long Competition. Unusually for the time, she then chose to move to Moscow, to study with Stanislav Neuhaus, son of the famous teacher Heinrich Neuhaus. During her nine years in Moscow, Engerer won prizes at the Tchaikovsky and Queen Elisabeth competitions, but it was an audition for conductor Herbert von Karajan in the early 1980s that brought her to international attention. “My style is certainly not Russian,” she told the Washington Times in 1992. “I need the transparency of the French piano – and, more important, the rationality of French philosophy – but I need some of the Russian craziness in my playing.” Brigitte Engerer was 59. n

1978-2012

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composer Elliott Carter, taking part in the premiere of Carter’s Double Concerto as piano soloist in 1961, and co-commissioning Carter’s solo-piano Night Fantasies in 1980. Rosen’s performances could sometimes be characterised by an over-studiousness and a lack of spontaneity, but they were never less than insightful. His parallel career as writer continued from the publication of The Classical Style through Sonata Forms in 1980 to Romanticism and Realism in 1984, among many other writings. At the same time, Rosen gained an envied reputation as one of the most engaging and widely read critics in the New York Review of Books. n

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1952-2012

Photography: Getty Images; Julia Wesely; Lebrecht Music & Arts

The pianist, writer, critic and Steinway Artist Charles Rosen died in New York on 9 December 2012 at the age of 85. Highly respected as a performer of bracing insight, especially in the core repertoire of keyboard greats from Bach to Brahms, he was held in equally high regard as a perceptive, sometimes waspish music critic, and as an influential writer on music. His 1971 book The Classical Style, which analyses the musical language of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, is a staple text in university music courses the world over. Born in Manhattan in 1927, Rosen enrolled at the Juilliard School at the age of 7, where he later studied with the great teacher Moriz Rosenthal, who had been a pupil of Liszt. He gave his first professional recital at the surprisingly late age of 23, and only gained a recording contract with CBS several years later, for which he made admired recordings of Bach and Beethoven. He later became a vociferous champion of the

Obituaries

Anthony di Bonaventura 1929-2012 Anthony di Bonaventura, a Steinway Artist for more than half a century, died on 12 November, his 83rd birthday. He will forever hold a prominent place in Steinway’s galaxy of stars, not only for his exquisite artistry at the piano but also for his personal and unwavering commitment to excellence in teaching. A professor of music at Boston University and director of the Brandywine International Piano Institute at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, he performed in twenty-seven countries and played with the world’s major orchestras and conductors. He made many acclaimed recordings for Columbia, RCA, Connoisseur Society and Sine Qua Non. Born in 1929, in Follansbee, West Virginia, di Bonaventura was a prodigious piano talent. He began to learn at the age of 3 and gave his

first professional concert at 4. At 6 he won a scholarship to New York’s Music School Settlement and he appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic at 13. In his teens he studied with the celebrated Russian teacher Isabelle Vengerova and later entered the Curtis Institute. He was always forward-thinking and embraced the music of new composers, including Luciano Berio, Alberto Ginastera and Gyorgy Ligeti, who all wrote for him. In a 1978 interview with the Boston Globe, he outlined his teaching philosophy. “If you do not have cultural awareness and musical understanding, you have nothing. That is why I tell my students not to practise all the time. Instead they must go out and learn about other things.” n

Dave Brubeck

Elliott Carter

Jazz pianist and composer Dave Brubeck, whose 1959 album Time Out defined West Coast cool for millions of listeners, died on 5 December, one day short of his 92nd birthday. The multi-metre songs on Time Out, notably Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk, have become standards, along with other Brubeck compositions such as In Your Own Sweet Way and The Duke, the latter dedicated to Duke Ellington. Brubeck was born in California in 1920. His mother was a would-be concert pianist who studied with Myra Hess and his father a cattle rancher. The young Brubeck briefly took up veterinary studies, but his love of late-night music sessions and his time in a band during his military service in World War II finally brought him to music as a profession. In 1951 he founded the Dave Brubeck Quartet, featuring saxophonist Paul Desmond; the two played together until 1967. In later years, Brubeck was an energetic touring musician and he also composed large-scale orchestral and choral works, including The Gates of Justice, a cantata that used the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Guardian’s John Fordham wrote that “Brubeck’s real achievement was to blend European compositional ideas, very demanding rhythmic structures, jazz song-forms and improvisation in expressive and accessible ways”. n

The American composer Elliott Carter died in New York on 5 November at the remarkable age of 103. Notorious for his uncompromisingly complex music, which employed ever-changing rhythms and multiple layers of often unconnected musical strands, he was twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize and received numerous other awards throughout his long life. His music gained widespread renown and respect in his later years, and compositions for piano played a significant role in his output. Born in New York in 1908, Carter made an early friend in Charles Ives, who recommended him for entry into Harvard University, where he studied from 1926. In 1932 he travelled to Paris to study composition with Nadia Boulanger for three years, and he began his career as a music critic and teacher. Carter’s Piano Sonata of 1945 marked a major step towards his mature style, with its uncompromising rhythmic complexity and innovative use of the instrument’s natural resonances. After growing recognition with orchestral and chamber works, including string quartets and the Double Concerto for piano and harpsichord (1961), Carter’s Night Fantasies (1980) for solo piano marked the beginning of a freer, more lyrical style. His final piece, 12 Short Epigrams, was a solo piano work written for Pierre-Laurent Aimard in August 2012, just three months before he died. n

1920-2012

1908-2012

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Benjamin Britten centenary

Photo credit:

Britten himself was a natural pianist – even if he didn’t always think so

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Benjamin Britten centenary

Hidden Britten

As the world marks the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, some well deserved light will fall on his piano works. Though largely overlooked beside his orchestral and operatic compositions, there are some gems among this relatively tiny aspect of his output, as Jessica Duchen reveals

Photography: Getty Images

Benjamin Britten’s prowess as a pianist has long been overshadowed by his repute as a composer. He is in good company, of course. Over the centuries, many of the finest composers have been equally adept at the keyboard, among them Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Where Britten differs, though, is that despite his outstanding playing, he wrote remarkably little for the instrument. It’s a typically Brittenesque paradox, perhaps; one that reflects his own inner conflicts; yet it also tells us much about his taste for discovering different musical colours. Britten’s piano output is tiny: just a handful of solo works composed between 1923 and 1940, two pieces for two pianos, one early Piano Concerto, Diversions, for piano left hand and orchestra, the brief but stirring ‘fanfare’ Young Apollo for piano and orchestra and the short solo Night Piece, commissioned by the first Leeds International Piano Competition in 1963. Otherwise, he usually relegates the instrument, when he uses it at all, to a strangely self-effacing role. Britten himself was a natural pianist – even if he didn’t always think so. Faced with an unsympathetic teacher at Gresham, the boarding school he attended, he was told that his hopes of becoming a musician were unfounded; fortunately, he took no notice, and was happy to hurry off to the great Harold Samuel for occasional lessons instead. Ultimately the school praised his pianistic gifts, but the Royal College of

Opposite: Benjamin Britten in 1948, the year he launched the Aldeburgh Festival Right: Britten in 1962 with his partner, the tenor Peter Pears

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Photography: Getty Images

Benjamin Britten centenary

Music, where his piano teacher was Arthur Benjamin, did not. The institution failed to encourage him towards a pianistic career, beyond wondering how he was going to earn a living. “Lor’, I’m bad at the piano,” the student reflected. His sense of frustration over his own playing persisted into his early professional life as a jobbing musician, composing scores for film and radio broadcasts. Perhaps he was being too severe on himself. When he met his lifelong partner, the tenor Peter Pears, in 1937 and began to accompany him, the singer was struck by “an extraordinary connection between his brain and his heart and the tips of his fingers. You could watch Ben holding his hands over the piano preparatory to playing a slow movement, a soft, soft chord, and you could see his fingers alert, alive, really sometimes even quivering with the intensity of what was going to occur.” Exceptional sensitivity shines out of Britten’s recordings as accompanist to Pears, especially in

Above: Britten and Pears with their friend and collaborator Imogen Holst in the garden at Aldeburgh in 1955. Holst, the daughter of Gustav Holst, worked at Aldeburgh for twelve years

the music of Schubert. “He used to accompany songs by Schubert,” wrote Imogen Holst, “with such intimate concern that the music sounded as if it were his own.” Perhaps the key to Britten’s attitude towards the piano was its role as foil to the human voice. In recordings of his playing you can hear the vocal quality of his phrasing, a rounded, expressive touch and an unerring instinct for the right balance of interaction with his musical collaborators; this can be no coincidence. After he met Pears, the instrument seems to have settled into its natural place in his mind and his creativity. Barry Douglas, one of all too few pianists who have championed Britten’s Piano Concerto, regards him as “a born pianist, as well as a born composer, conductor, collaborator and educator”. Douglas’ teacher, the late Maria Curcio, knew Britten and Pears well and, he recounts, used to stay often at their house in Aldeburgh. “She told me that she Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Photography: Brian Seed / Lebrecht Music & Arts; Getty Images

Benjamin Britten centenary

was lucky enough to see the interactions between Britten and people like Sviatoslav Richter, as well as watching Britten and Pears rehearsing,” he says, “and she thought he had a completely natural gift for the piano. He was able to have a musical thought and it happened perfectly every time at the instrument – he didn’t have to work at it. His playing sounds beautiful, natural, right, wholesome and sincere. There’s not a drop of egotism in it. It’s all about the music – and that’s rare.” That sincerity would have been appreciated by many of his collaborators, not least Sir Clifford Curzon, with whom Britten sometimes gave performances of his (and others’) works for two pianos. But nerves, unfortunately, are often the downside of sensitivity. Though reasonably confident as a performer at first, Britten seems to have suffered appallingly from nerves later on; something that the harpsichordist and conductor George Malcolm judged might have been the result of him being “an instinctive rather than a scientific pianist”. It is interesting that later, especially at the Aldeburgh Festival, Britten would appear at the piano as chamber musician or as soloist in a Mozart piano concerto, but rarely alone; his first preference was to join forces with other musicians. And it was in these situations he met his greatest triumphs as a performer – for instance, with the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich at Aldeburgh in the 1960s. The Piano Concerto, the most substantial and prominent of his works for the instrument, dates from 1938, when Britten was all of 25, and was finished just in time for its first rehearsal at the Proms. The composer was himself the soloist (“The piano part wasn’t as impossible to play as I feared,” he told his

Top left: Britten listens to a point being made by his friend and fan Sviatoslav Richter in 1968 Top right: rehearsing his Cello Sonata with Mstislav Rostropovich at Aldeburgh in 1961 Above: Britten shows his delicate touch during rehearsal of his opera The Rape Of Lucretia at Glyndebourne in 1946

publisher). It is much of its era, at times echoing the insouciant brilliance of Ravel, Poulenc or Prokofiev. It opens with a dizzying toccata and proceeds through a waltz, an intermezzo – a late addition in 1945, replacing a recitative and aria – and, to close, a march that sometimes seems a cousin to Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges. Britten described the piece as “simple and direct in form” and he hoped that it would be popular as “a bravura Concerto with orchestral accompaniment”. Perhaps he was underselling his own gifts. Some of Britten’s friends felt that he had concentrated on brilliance at the expense of originality. And even today the work is not performed nearly as much as it deserves. The intermezzo – a passacaglia – is its most recognisably Brittenesque movement: here, the acidic harmonies and shadowy colouration are clearly from the same world as Peter Grimes, with which this section is contemporaneous. “The whole piece is halfway between a concerto and a divertissement of four character movements,” suggests the Scottish pianist Steven Osborne, who has performed and recorded the work and will play it a number of times in a variety of countries during this year’s Britten centenary celebrations. “In particular, the nature of the last movement is very difficult to define – I had to work very hard to get a really convincing character into it.” Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Top: Britten the composer, hard at work at the Old Mill, Snape, in 1946 Above: Peter Pears in the role of Peter Grimes, Britten’s great opera set on the coast of his native Suffolk, which debuted at Sadler’s Wells in 1945

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Reflecting on why the concerto is not programmed more frequently, Douglas suggests, “It has all the elements necessary for a popular piece, but maybe it needs more of the bigger themes, something into which newcomers can get their teeth. Maybe it’s too ironical; because he’s so over-the-top bombastic, especially at the end, somehow people are wondering if this is the real Britten. He’s poking fun all the time: you might wonder if we can take it seriously.” But he adds that the sombreness of the passacaglia “underpins the work”, a valuable counterbalance to the irony. “It’s really fun to play and it’s obviously fun for the audience. People respond very well to it,” says Osborne. “In terms of writing for the piano, though, I’m guessing that perhaps Britten was a little inhibited by his own facility. You can enjoy the physical aspects of the virtuosity, but perhaps it almost made it difficult for him to think musically. I think maybe his imagination was freer when he wasn’t writing for an instrument with which he had such a strong personal connection. “He didn’t write much dark music for piano, which is interesting: I wonder if there’s something about the piano for him that lay in a particular emotional realm, relatively light and brilliant.” Britten followed the Concerto with Young Apollo, a ‘fanfare’ for piano and orchestra commissioned by CBC and first performed in Toronto, not long after he and Pears headed to North America in 1938. During their American years he also wrote Scottish Ballad for two pianos and orchestra, a medley of traditional tunes and, in 1940, Diversions, for piano left hand and orchestra. This latter work was for Paul Wittgenstein, the pianist who, having lost his right arm in World War I, also commissioned left hand works from such luminaries as Prokofiev, Ravel, Strauss, Hindemith and Korngold. “Not deep,” Britten said of the work, “but quite pretty.” But why so little solo piano music, even though his friend Richter would have loved him to write some more? The explanation could derive from Britten’s own complex relationship with the instrument as a player; or it could be the fact that, despite his facility, he simply preferred other timbres. Interviewed in 1962, he explained, “I like the piano very much as a background instrument, but I don’t feel inclined to treat it as a melodic instrument. I find that it’s limited in colour. I don’t really like the sound of a modern piano.” Still, Benjamin Grosvenor, who performed the Britten Concerto at the Proms in 2011 when he was just 19 and has also played it this year at the Barbican, casts intriguing perspective on Britten’s

Photography: Getty Images

Benjamin Britten centenary

Benjamin Britten centenary

canny use of pianistic colour. “He understood the piano and what could be achieved with it – eg, in the first movement cadenza,” he says, “but also, importantly, how it would sound in context. The full effect of the keyboard writing is only realised when you hear it with the orchestra, and hear the textures that result.” One last image of Britten at the piano lingers. At the end of World War II he accompanied Yehudi Menuhin on a visit to Bergen-Belsen after the concentration camp’s liberation. The cellist Anita Lasker, a survivor of its horrors, was present at the performance, though did not know at the time who the pianist was. “Somehow one never noticed that there was any accompanying going on at all,” she wrote, “and yet I had to stare at this man like one transfixed as he sat seemingly suspended between chair and keyboard, playing so beautifully.” n

Above: Britten the conductor in 1965, the same year he was awarded the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II

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Competitions

The

competitiveedge As 2013 throws the spotlight once again on some of the world’s most prestigious international piano competitions, Jessica Duchen examines the benefits of these contests for aspiring pianists, and records the testimony of three notable prize winners

Right: Van Cliburn bridges the gap between East and West in 1958, winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow against the backdrop of the Cold War

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Photography: Alamy

Winning a prize in an international competition is a milestone virtually expected of most emerging concert pianists. Throughout the past century, competition triumphs have provided stepping stones to fame, with some passing into the realms of legend: Murray Perahia at the 1972 Leeds International Piano Competition, Martha Argerich at the Chopin International Competition in Warsaw, 1965, and Krystian Zimerman, also at Warsaw, ten years later, to name but three. The greatest drama of all took place at the height of the Cold War, when Van Cliburn, a young American pianist, won the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow against all political odds. The US welcomed him home as a national hero. In the past twenty years, though, the role of competitions has undergone a sideways shift. There are now so many that the sheer number of winners is often thought to have ‘devalued the currency’ to some degree. Meanwhile, coverage of classical music in the mainstream media has reduced to such an extent that public awareness of competitions has inevitably lessened too. Yet there’s no doubt that when a buzz spreads about an exciting winner, it can still change that musician’s life. Nor are the benefits limited to the person who takes first prize: from the chance to be heard and noticed to the personal boost of confidence that a prize can bestow, taking part is a potentially invaluable process for any young performer.

Competitions

Photography: Ben Ealovega / Decca

Below and bottom: Behzod Abduraimov has enjoyed numerous benefits since winning the London International Piano Competition in 2009, including signing a record deal with Decca

Behzod Abduraimov from Uzbekistan was the winner in 2009 of the London International Piano Competition (LIPC). The event kickstarted his career and he has continued to build on the momentum it generated. His recent recital at London’s Southbank Centre sent the audience into ecstasies, the Sunday Times hailing his performance as “pure genius”. “The atmosphere at the competition was quite intense, with four rounds consisting of solo and concerto works,” remembers Adburaimov, who is now 22. “I think competitions like this always present an opportunity to be heard, and winning one could lead to a successful career. “I started to take part in international competitions at the age of nine, but LIPC was my first major international competition. It was definitely exciting to play in London and to have a chance to perform with the London Philharmonic in the final round. Obviously I was very happy Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Above: Janina Fialkowska enjoys the support of Arthur Rubinstein in taking third prize in 1974 Right: Steinway Artist Fialkowska puts her successful career down to the kickstart Rubinstein gave her as a result of taking part in his piano competition

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to be a winner of the LIPC, since it was my first experience participating in such an important event, but I also realise that I was quite lucky to achieve this as well. “Following the competition, I was heard by different management agencies and I had the opportunity to sign with Harrison Parrott and subsequently got an exclusive recording contract with Decca. Since then I’ve collaborated with conductors such as Vladimir Ashkenazy, Charles Dutoit and Pinchas Zuckerman. I also released my first disc for Decca. Now I’m looking forward to a number of debuts and recording my second CD.” Often the crucial matter is not the prize itself, but the platform on which to be noticed. In 1974, Janina Fialkowska, a Canadian pianist and Steinway Artist of Polish background, took third prize in the inaugural Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv. It changed her life for an extraordinary reason. “My friend Emanuel Ax got first prize,” she says, “but I got Rubinstein.”

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Photography: Julien Faugère / ATMA

Competitions

Competitions

Rubinstein himself was then in his late eighties, but still performing and a hugely influential figure. “I wanted to be a musician but I had no backing from home and I had enrolled in law school,” Fialkowska relates. “I only entered the competition because Canadian Radio – the French branch of the CBC – believed in me and sent me there.” After the second round, Rubinstein came up to her and told her how much he had enjoyed her playing. “He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m going to make sure you have a career.’” He was true to his word. The following season, he stipulated that whichever concert engagement he received, she would also be given. “My whole career since then has been based on those concerts,” she says. “It was a real case of deus ex machina, and it could only have happened at a competition.” Fialkowska adds that she now takes pains to help young musicians whose playing she likes when she is a juror herself. The British pianist Anthony Hewitt was joint winner of the top prize in the William Kapell Competition in 1992. His view of such events is pragmatic, personal and down-to-earth. “Most competitions provide exposure and a prize is a great calling card,” he says. “This prize, first of all, gave me a considerable amount of money, which was good for my independence and confidence, and it gave me some concerts as well – I was able play in some amazing places, like the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. It was a huge morale boost for me because the competition’s standard was as high as you’d find anywhere in the world and I’d never expected to get anywhere in it. I enjoyed the earlier rounds and the adrenalin, but for the finals there’s an additional pressure from having done well. It’s like tennis, when you’re serving the last game to win Wimbledon!” What is his advice to today’s young pianists approaching these events? “I think it can be a mistake to do too many competitions because it can become like a career in itself,” he points out. “There should be an aim beyond. I know from having sat on juries myself that it’s much more important to have something to say and to have conviction in your musical ideas – not just to play with the jury in mind, being ‘correct’ technically and musically. Above all, don’t put too much importance on it. Competitions are good Top: Anthony Hewitt (on the left) with fellow prizewinners and juror Seymour Lipkin at the 1992 William Kappell Competition Left: Hewitt sees his prize as a “great calling card” and a “huge morale boost”, but warns against competition overkill

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Competitions

Above: Fialkowska in concert with conductor Zubin Mehta during her season with Rubinstein, 1975

The Van Cliburn at 50

difference not only to the number of music lovers the contests reach, but also to the way they can be entered and judged. In the end, though, each musician has to carve out his or her individual niche in the musical world. A competition win can provide advantages of many different types, from morale to experience, from prize money to record contracts – but for the pianists themselves, that is just the beginning. Hewitt, who studied in the US with Leon Fleisher, returned to Britain after his competition win and today divides his time between solo performance, chamber music, teaching and running his own music festival at Ulverston in the Lake District. Fialkowska enjoyed international celebrity and made numerous acclaimed recordings before being stricken with cancer in her shoulder ten years ago; since then she has reinvented her musical approach and rebuilt her career. Today Abduraimov is well on the way towards international stardom and, with luck, he will enjoy a brilliant future. Pianists take note: a prize can kickstart a career, but after that, it is up to you. n

A

fter Van Cliburn defied the odds and made history at the Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958, the founding of a new contest in his native Texas seemed an obvious way to keep the legacy of that moment alive. In 1962 the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition was held for the first time, in Fort Worth. Over the years its top prize has been scooped by such artists as Radu Lupu, Steven De Groote, Alexei Sultanov and Olga Kern. The Cliburn’s half-century anniversary competition begins on 24 May 2013, with prizes to be announced on 9 June. And these days the event is much more

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Photography: Van Cliburn Foundation, Inc

for learning repertoire and it’s a platform for you to perform, but it shouldn’t be an end in itself. If you’ve practised enough and you feel confident, just get on stage and play your heart out.” The piano on which contestants compete can make a world of difference. “A great piano takes away a huge level of stress, particularly if you have a choice of instrument,” Fialkowska says. Hewitt agrees. “It makes a huge difference, a new piano with reliable action, and Steinways are known for that. You usually do have a choice of pianos at competitions and I’ve generally chosen a Steinway. There’s a quality of luxury in the sound of a Steinway – its resonance and beauty is a living, breathing thing and the sustained tone seems to go on forever.” What next, though, for the world of piano competitions and their winners? Inventing or harnessing new ways of disseminating information and performances to a wider audience – especially streaming on the Internet – will prove crucial to most competitions’ repute in the future, and here the potential for exciting development remains unlimited. It is already beginning to make a major

Competitions

than a piano contest. High-profile competitions such as this can become focal points for the entire community within which they take place. Fort Worth is blessed with some superb facilities, but lacks the cultural advantages of New York or San Francisco – so the Cliburn has become a hub of activity at every level. It is a source of local pride, a draw for those eager to offer sponsorship and hospitality and, above all, a feast of great music making for its audience.

New York, explains how it works. “We try to ensure that all of the competition’s piano needs are met, so the competitors who come for this prestigious event are sure to have wonderful, concert prepped instruments ready for them to play,” she says. “We want to see that every competitor can do their job with the right equipment and the greatest ease – it’s hard enough to take part in a competition without having to worry about the piano!

The competition has grown to encompasses an extensive education project, offering after-school piano lessons to local children and a programme entitled Musical Awakenings to introduce classical music to young audiences, presenting live piano recitals for second, third and fourth grade pupils. It has also introduced an Amateur Piano Competition, established in 1999, aiming to show the joys of music as part of everyday life, as well as to uncover some amazing talent in the more unlikely echelons of non-musical professions.

“Steinway provides all technical services: we have technicians on staff who are tuning the pianos regularly, voicing them and working with the competitors on a daily basis to ensure that the piano is just right for them when they’re performing.”

The Cliburn uses Steinway pianos exclusively and has had a special relationship with the firm for some years. Jenn Gordon, Manager of Concert and Artist Activities at Steinway & Sons in

The pianos experience a good deal of wear and tear during such an intense competition. “Having a technician there at all times is essential, to make sure that the instruments are constantly ready to be performed on and to handle the load they go through,” says Gordon. “We send instruments from our Concert and Artist inventory in New York and we have a local dealer in Dallas that’s providing Steinways direct as well. So we’re serving all their needs.”

2013 competition calendar Hilton Head International Young Artists Piano Competition 4-9 March, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina Virginia Waring International Piano Competition 24 March-1 April, Palm Desert, California Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition 6 May-1 June, Brussels Van Cliburn International Piano Competition 24 May-9 June, Fort Worth, Texas

Photography: Altre Media, Van Cliburn Foundation, Inc

Top of the World 16-21 June, Tromsø Cleveland International Piano Competition 30 July-11 August, Cleveland, Ohio Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition 21-30 August (TBC), Bolzano ARD International Music Competition 2-20 September, Munich (for piano trio)

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Piano care

Troubled waters Pianos and water don’t mix. Or they shouldn’t. When they do come together, the effects can be disastrous. Inge Kjemtrup assesses the damage and finds out how you can protect your piano from the demon damp Last October, Hurricane Sandy left a huge swath of devastation across the Caribbean and on America’s Eastern Seaboard. Houses were torn apart, trees ripped from their roots, streets flooded and parts of the New York subway were submerged in water. One memorable image of Manhattan showed almost all of the lower part of the island in darkness due to electrical outage. The loss of lives and

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property (the initial estimate for the US alone was $65.6billion) from this storm is still being evaluated. Bill Youse, Director, Technical Services and Special Projects for Steinway & Sons New York, witnessed some of the effects that a sudden influx of water has on pianos. “We have repaired several Steinways that were damaged by Sandy,” he says. “Most received minor damage and we replaced legs,

Piano care

pedals and pedal lyres. They had been in just a few inches of water and were removed very quickly so the damage was minimal. Two or three will need complete restoration and one was beyond repair.” The circumstance that made that particular piano irreparable was pretty extreme. “The customer explained that the piano had been ‘hit by a boat that had crashed into and floated through his living room,’” says Youse. David R Kirkland, Customer Service Administrator for Steinway & Sons New York, cites natural disasters such as Sandy, plumbing mishaps, leaking roofs and fire sprinkler systems as the leading causes of water damage. “Water damage can also occur when water is used by fire-fighters to extinguish a fire,” he adds. “There is also humidity damage, which can occur when a piano is exposed to tropical levels of humidity in excess of 75 per cent RH [relative humidity].” Whether a piano can be restored after water damage depends on a number of factors, as Youse explains. “How much water, what type of water (fresh or salt) and where the water came from (above, below, steam or high humidity) can be sometimes just as important has long exposure to water.” Stabilisation is the name of the game. “The effects can take a while to manifest,” says David Widdicombe, Technical Services Manager, Steinway & Sons London. “We generally want the piano to dry naturally and be stabilised, and then we take a decision about what to do. It’s important for pianos to dry out slowly.” Kirkland suggests a drying period of three to six months before an assessment can be made. “We have to preserve our reputation for quality, so we can’t take shortcuts,” says Widdicombe of the Steinway repairs process. This means that even a piano with a few damaged hammers might have to have all its hammers replaced. Happily, with a fine piano like a Steinway, even a seemingly expensive repair may balance out against replacement value. Once stabilised, a piano must be closely inspected, ideally at the piano workshop rather than in situ, and it will be scrutinised from top to bottom. “The way the keyboard fits to the keybed has to be fairly precise,” Widdicombe says, “and the keybed needs to be flat and not warped.” A compromised keyboard can be replaced, but keybed damage can contribute to a piano being beyond repair. “Mould and mildew can affect all of the wooden parts and can attack the felt on the hammers, changing their texture and thus the tonal qualities of the piano,” says Youse. “It could change the feel

Top: corrosion of the strings may be cosmetic and easily removed but if it’s severe there is a danger that the strings could break Above: once water gets into the piano it can compromise many components, including metal parts, felt bushings and, most serious of all, the soundboard

by attacking felt bushings throughout the action and pedal assemblies. Some of the chemicals to treat mould and mildew can cause damage of their own, so the best treatment is usually replacement of the affected parts.” Minor rust is a cosmetic issue and can often be removed but, says Widdicombe, “bad corrosion can cause breaking strings. If strings are rusty as the result of water dripping, we advise replacement. The condition of the soundboard in this respect is also important.” Pianos with modern polyester finishes are generally more water resistant, which is helpful against smaller-scale damage like drips from ceilings. But on grand pianos, the finish is almost irrelevant, as the hinge that opens the music stand is not watertight. “We have a piano where that happened – enough water on top of the Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Piano care

Humidity and your piano

piano got through and damaged the action,” says Widdicombe. “Funnily enough, the finish was not damaged. It was satin and could be fixed.” Steinway piano owners can only do so much to protect against extreme environmental events like Hurricane Sandy, but they can safeguard against humidity fluctuations through the regular use of a hygrometer to monitor relative humidity (see box). If needed, a humidifier or a dehumidifier or air conditioner can be added to control the overall environment in the piano room. Widdicombe advises buying a room humidifier that has an outlet that goes to the outside rather than a built-in reservoir. He cites the case of a client whose dehumidifier was working just fine to keep the room stable – until he went away on holiday and the reservoir filled up and the dehumidifier stopped working. Youse has a final warning for any rock stars contemplating pushing their piano into the pool. “We restore pianos from all over the world, so I see many different types of damage from many different types of environmental situations and I have seen many pianos that were beyond recovery,” he says. “Many people may not know this, but when a piano is submerged to the point where it floats (yes, pianos do float, albeit for a very short period of time) they flip over on their tops. Once you see that, the piano is pretty much unsalvageable.” n

Top left: severe corrosion to strings and other metal parts Top right: a warped keybed or soundboard can lead to a piano being beyond repair Above: split legs can be replaced

Recommendations from Steinway & Sons 1. Buy a hygrometer for the room where your piano is located. You can buy a decent hygrometer for $30 to $40 at wine shops, hardware stores and technical equipment stores. This will give you an indication of the amount of moisture in the air. 2. Monitor the hygrometer to determine the highs and lows of humidity for your particular piano environment. According to established, institutional guidelines for piano maintenance, a humidity fluctuation range in excess of 30 points on the relative humidity (RH) scale is excessive for the piano. The result would be tuning instability, possible cracking of the soundboard, eventually loose tuning pins and sluggish or loose pivot points in the keys or action of the piano. Forty-five to 50 per cent RH is the optimum range for Steinway pianos. 3. Steinway & Sons recommends the use of climate control measures or a room humidifier as necessary during dry seasons. Whatever measures are used, the essential principle is to maintain as narrow a range of humidity fluctuation as possible and to safeguard the piano from sudden or drastic extremes of humidity fluctuation. 4. Treatment of mould or mildew requires professional attention, possibly restoration or replacement of parts, and relocation of the piano to a more suitable environment.

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All-Steinway schools

150 schools and counting The All-Steinway Schools movement recently celebrated its 150th member. Vince Coveleskie takes a snapshot of what has become a global phenomenon

Citing diverse cultural interpretations across the globe, scholars often debate whether music really is a universal language. But for more than 150 distinguished institutions now proudly displaying the All-Steinway School insignia, there is no question about what has become a universal symbol of excellence. While the Oberlin Conservatory of Music first partnered with Steinway & Sons in 1877, the All-Steinway concept was officially adopted about twenty years ago. “Steinway & Sons recognised that institutions like the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Juilliard School, the Yale School of Music, the Curtis Institute of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music were already using Steinway pianos exclusively,” says Sally Coveleskie, National Director of Institutional Sales at Steinway & Sons in New York City. “From this illustrious core of institutions where the world’s foremost musicians and teachers were already using Steinway pianos, it wasn’t inconceivable that other schools would want to emulate them in terms of examining their own piano inventories.” With more institutions purchasing large numbers of new Steinway pianos, the company discovered a unique way to acknowledge their efforts. “The title ‘All-Steinway School’ captures the same spirit of excellence expressed in Steinway’s mission statement,” she says. “What our most coveted symbol tells the world is that this school is committed to excellence, just as we have been for 160 years.” Steinway pianos are exclusive to 97 per cent of all pianists performing with orchestras around

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the world, as well as 1,600 musicians who are designated Steinway Artists. Dr Robert Blocker, Dean of the Yale School of Music, notes that Steinway pianos are serving young artists (at Yale) who are already launching their careers, “and the thing that we appreciate so much is that these are the pianos they will find in world competitions and centres throughout the United States.” “It reflects on your programme, it reflects on everything as being committed to the best,” adds Dr Richard Gipson, Director of the School of Music at Texas Christian University, home of the Van Cliburn Competition. All-Steinway Schools are divided into three categories: conservatories, colleges and universities, and other schools of distinction. At an All-Steinway School, each student is guaranteed to perform and rehearse on Steinway instruments. Institutions must follow Steinway maintenance guidelines and are subject to periodic inspections by Steinway & Sons factory representatives. Steinway develops a customised strategic plan to manage inventories, in addition to offering technical services, support with fundraising, financing and public relations. “Our comprehensive approach addresses everything to ensure that students and faculty members have the best pianos possible,” says Coveleskie. Having an inventory plan in hand, schools can offer potential donors much more than the aesthetic beauty of the instruments. “Non-musicians who evaluate the programme strictly from an investor’s point of view usually point to value, durability

All-Steinway schools

Photography: David Katzenstein; Dottie Stover; Vincent Oneppo

and the appreciating investment in equipment,” she explains. “They choose Steinway pianos for pragmatic as well as artistic reasons.” Wanda L Bass, a banker, philanthropist and arts patron, who passed away in 2008, made international news with the single largest donation of 105 new Steinway pianos to Oklahoma City University. Other landmarks in the storied history of the All-Steinway programme include the 2007 purchase of 141 pianos by the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York – Potsdam for $3.8million, followed two years later with the single largest order of 165 Steinway instruments for more than $4m by the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. The number of All-Steinway Schools recently reached the important milestone of 150 institutions when the Hugh A Glauser School of Music at Kent State University, Ohio, completed its $2.7m purchase of seventy new pianos. Given a strong emphasis on excellence, it comes as no surprise that the programme has defied geographical boundaries. The amazing assembly of All-Steinway Schools outside the US attests to a collective distinction quite unlike any other worldwide initiative: the Central Conservatory of Music School of Piano in Beijing, the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff, Leeds College of Music in England, University of South Africa in Pretoria, University of Victoria in Canada, the Amadeus International School of Music in Austria, Rimsky-Korsakov Music School in Russia, Qatar Music Academy in Doha and the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico in San Juan. “We’d like to thank our many partners in the global community for sharing in our rich tradition and history,” says Coveleskie. n From the top: representing Steinway at the dedication ceremony of the Central Conservatory of Music, School of Piano, Beijing are Wei Wei, Vice-President of Marketing & Sales, Steinway Piano (Shanghai) and Werner Husmann, President Steinway Asia Pacific and Chairman of the Board, Steinway Piano (Shanghai); a map showing the global spread of All-Steinway Schools; the piano faculty and orchestra perform at the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music; Dean David Stull of the Oberlin College Conservatory (centre) with Ron Losby, President of Steinway & Sons – Americas and Sally Coveleskie, National Director of Institutional Sales, celebrating Oberlin’s 135 year partnership with Steinway at a concert by Jeremy Denk at Carnegie Hall; Steinway Artist Ignat Solzhenitsyn gives a lesson at the Curtis Institute of Music; Dr Abdul Ghafour Al Heeti, Director of Qatar Music Academy (left) with James Ledgerwood, Steinway & Sons’ District Sales Manager, Overseas Territories; a student at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, which added more than 100 pianos by Steinway & Sons in 2006; Kennesaw State University in Georgia celebrated becoming an All-Steinway School thanks to the gift of a single donor; Loretto School in Musselburgh is Scotland’s oldest boarding school, founded in 1827, and the first All-Steinway independent school in Europe; Peter Frankl (front left) celebrates his 70th birthday during a concert with fellow piano faculty members Boris Berman and Claude Frank at the Yale School of Music, an All-Steinway school since 1897. All three pianists are Steinway Artists.

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All-Steinway schools

Puerto Rico sets the standard The acquisition of 108 new pianos by Steinway & Sons last year saw the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music become the first All-Steinway School in Latin America. Vince Coveleskie followed the story

Seeking only the finest tools to build a multi-cultural musical bridge between the Caribbean and mainland United States, the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music chose pianos by Steinway & Sons. The historic institution now stands as the first All-Steinway School in Latin America, bringing with it precious cultural heritage rooted in the vision of celebrated Spanish cellist Don Pablo Casals. By importing orchestral musicians – most of them from America – Casals launched his world renowned namesake festival as a way to promote tourism on his adopted island. The immense success of his annual event prompted the government to create the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra in 1957 and, two years later, Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. “With 108 beautiful new pianos by Steinway & Sons, we are truly proud to be the new tropical piano paradise of Latin America,” proclaimed Chancellor Maria del Carmen Gil, herself an accomplished pianist and former student of Leon Fleisher. “The Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music now becomes a pianist’s wonderland! What an honour it is to be in such good company with more than 140 [now 150] prestigious conservatories and music schools, who, like us, are sharing in this distinguished All-Steinway seal.”

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Right: the new academic/ performing arts complex, which is equipped with fifty-two new pianos by Steinway & Sons Below: the Conservatory’s historic building which was restored in the first phase of the project

All-Steinway schools

Left: Aleksandr Bernhard of Steinway Piano Gallery Miami, and Sally Coveleskie, National Director of Institutional Sales, congratulate Chancellor Maria del Carmen Gil and Dean Melanie Santana with a plaque signifying the first AllSteinway School in the Caribbean

Students and faculty were thrilled with the factory fresh pianos. “They comment in total delight that this is like a dream come true,” she said. “For a music student, pianist or any other musician, the piano is the foundation of solid musicianship. Wonderful Steinway instruments now enrich the learning and teaching experience in all our programmes of study.” Chancellor Gil went on to stress the importance of having high quality equipment for practice and performance. “The piano is the pianist’s voice. Despite talent and skill, sometimes that voice may be distorted or muted somehow by unresponsive and poor sounding instruments,” she said. “Like a chameleon, a pianist has to constantly adapt and transform his or her playing to suit the piano. A great instrument can make you shine; a poor instrument can make for difficult performances. Great instruments like the Steinway truly make the pianist’s voice sing.” The Conservatory initiated an $80million, two phase construction project for two buildings that make up the campus on Avenida Ponce De León in the Santurce section of Miramar. The first phase called for restoring an existing historic building, while the second culminated earlier in 2012 with delivery of fifty-two pianos to a new academic/ performance complex. The work was done in concert with a $2m capital campaign to complete the All-Steinway programme. The Steinway pianos were purchased through a combination of private foundations, local businesses

and a prominent group of individual donors, including the incomparable Spanish tenor, Plácido Domingo. An illustrious performer at the Casals festival, Domingo funded one of two Model Ds for the Jesús Maria Sanromá Concert Hall, the main performance venue of the new Teatro Bertita y Guillermo L Martinez. In total, the Conservatory owns six Model Ds, the largest number anywhere in Latin America. “We are truly grateful for the wonderful support of our donors,” said Chancellor Gil. “Without them, we would not have achieved this important goal of becoming an All-Steinway School.” While continuing to educate orchestral musicians and public school teachers, the island landmark’s mission has evolved over the years to touch virtually every aspect of musical and cultural life in Puerto Rico. Today the Conservatory serves approximately 3,000 students through post-secondary degrees in Classical and Jazz/Caribbean music performance, composition and music education, as well as formative programmes for the community at large. It is a highly innovative approach within a conservatory environment that incorporates elements of social transformation alongside more traditional course offerings. Música 100x35, an island-wide initiative based on a model of Venezuela’s successful El Sistema programme, makes music education available to socially and economically disadvantaged children from high poverty communities. Through daily group sessions in instrumental, ensemble and Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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All-Steinway schools

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Above: Don Pablo Casals, who instigated the foundation of the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico in San Juan Right: world famous tenor Plácido Domingo, who made a significant donation towards the purchase of Steinways for the Conservatory

Photography: Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music; Rex Features

choral music, students delve into a variety of genres, often led by teachers who have used the positive power of music to transcend their own economically challenged backgrounds. The Conservatory also offers centres of learning for aspiring entrepreneurs in the music industry and those interested in preserving and disseminating the rich musical heritage of Puerto Rico. “Latin American countries, like all other countries in the world, feature almost exclusively Steinway & Sons pianos on their great concert stages,” said Ron Losby, President, Steinway & Sons – Americas. “This key designation of an All-Steinway School bestowed upon Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico will now raise the bar for other great music education institutions throughout the Caribbean, Central America and South America, with respect to the pianos they provide for their students, faculty and visiting performers.” And what would Maestro Casals think? Chancellor Gil responded swiftly with a smile. “From where the Conservatory stands today – not only on a local but international basis – we are positive he would be very pleased with our progress.” n

celebrating more than 150 all-steinway schools

All-Steinway Schools demonstrate a commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best equipment possible for the study of music. That is why the pianos owned by these institutions – from the practice room to the recital hall – are Designed by Steinway & Sons.

conservatories

Ball State University Belmont University Bemidji State University Blue Ridge Community College Bluffton University Boise State University Bowie State University Cairn University Cardinal Stritch University Carl Sandburg College Carnegie Mellon University School of Music Chestnut Hill College College of Mount St. Joseph Columbus State University Concordia University - St. Paul Converse College Cuyamaca College De Anza College Duquesne University East Tennessee State University Fairfield University Florida Gulf Coast University Franklin & Marshall College Franz Liszt College of Music Weimar at Kangnam University (Korea) George Mason University The George Washington University Georgia College and State University Gustavus Adolphus College

Academy of Vocal Arts Central Conservatory of Music, School of Piano (China) China Conservatory of Music, School of Piano (China)

Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico Leeds College of Music – Conservatoire (England) Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (Wales) University of Cincinnati - College Conservatory of Music

colleges and universities

Hastings College High Point University Immaculata University Indiana University of Pennsylvania James Madison University Kennesaw State University Kent State University Lake Michigan College Lewis and Clark Community College Lindenwood University Liverpool Hope University (England) Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania Lone Star College – Montgomery Loras College Martin Methodist College McLennan Community College Middle Tennessee State University Midland College Millikin University Missouri Western State University Montclair State University John J. Cali School of Music New Jersey City University Nicholls State University North Greenville University Oklahoma Christian University Oklahoma City University Oklahoma State University Oral Roberts University

University of Central Missouri Pellissippi State Community College University of Denver Pomona College University of Florida Portland State University University of Georgia Principia College University of Maryland Radford University University of Melbourne Rowan University Faculty of Music (Australia) Royal Holloway College University of London (England) University of Minnesota - Twin Cities Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota University of Minnesota - Morris Santa Fe College University of Montevallo Seton Hill University University of South Africa (S. Africa) Snow College University of South Florida Southern Adventist University University of Tennessee – Martin Southern Utah University University of Utah Southwestern Assemblies of God University of Victoria (Canada) University University of West Florida Spelman College University of West London (England) Spring Hill College University of Wolverhampton (England) State University of New York - Potsdam Utah State University Crane School of Music Utah Valley University Teachers College - Columbia University Vassar College (Since 1912*) Texas A&M International University Waldorf College Texas Christian University Wallace State Community College Tulane University Weber State University Union College Webster University University of Alabama at Birmingham West Chester University of Pennsylvania University of Arizona West Valley College University of Arkansas Westmont College University of Central Florida Wheaton College Youngstown State University

other schools of distinction

Amadeus International School of Music (Austria) Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing & Fine Arts City of Edinburgh School of Music (Scotland) Conservatori Liceu (Spain) Cranbrook School (Australia) Cushing Academy Durham School (England) Episcopal High School Gould Academy Hamburger Konservatorium (Germany) Henry Mancini Arts Academy at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Center Kronberg Academy (Germany) Levine School of Music

Longwood Nagakute School of Music (Japan) Loretto School (Scotland) New Yorker Musische Akademie im CJD Braunschweig (Germany) Pacific Northwest Ballet and School Pangbourne College (England)

Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts Pittsburgh’s Creative & Performing Arts Magnet School Qatar Music Academy (Qatar) Raleigh Conservatory of Music Rimsky-Korsakov Music School (Russia) Somerset College (Australia) St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Syddansk Musikkonservatorium & Skuespillerskole (Denmark) Tonbridge School (England) Valley Christian Schools Wellington School (England) Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

* Denotes an All-Steinway School for over 85 years.

Oberlin Conservatory of Music (Since 1877*) Yale School of Music (Since 1897*) Cleveland Institute of Music (Since 1920*) Curtis Institute of Music (Since 1924*)

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Austria. Moments of Bliss

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Vienna

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Graz

A s i n g u l a r j o u r n e y, a l i f e t i m e o f m e m o r i e s . 5

1_T h e M u s e u m th e Em p e ro r B u il t One hundred and twenty years ago, Emperor Franz Joseph transformed Vienna‘s cultural landscape forever with the opening of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Also known as the Museum of Fine Arts, the institution remains a crowning achievement of 19th century architects Gottfried Semper and Karl Hasenauer. From Rubens to Rembrandt, Vermeer to Velazquez, Titian to Dürer: what started as a repository for the Habsburg collections has evolved into an international treasure. In March 2013, one of the world’s most important chambers of art, the Kunstkammer Vienna of the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, will reopen after having been closed ten years for renovations. The state-of-the-art installation and presentation of the unique Kunstkammer Vienna is one of Austria’s foremost cultural projects and of seminal importance for Vienna’s imperial heritage. The collection of unique objects was regarded by contemporaries as a reflection of the entire universe, its task was to transmit knowledge and amaze all who saw this fabulous realm of fantasy. Extensive renovations have now transformed this gem – over 2,200 objects presented on 29,000 sq-ft - into a magical space of imagination. Be enchanted by the incredible goldsmith work, bronze, ivory and wood sculptures, and exotic objects such as ostrich eggs and the golden Saliera by Benvenuto Cellini. Enjoy a journey through time and enter a world of beauty, esprit, curiosities, and imperial splendor. www.khm.at

Email us for your personal copy of our new Magazine “Moments of Bliss:” travel @austria.info To plan your unique vacation visit austria.info/bliss Connect with us facebook.com/austriatravelinfo

© Österreich Werbung/ Peter Burgstaller; [1] © Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna; [2] © Hotel Sacher

Ornate palaces. Imperial grandeur. Echoes of Mozart. Austria has long captured the spirit of a magnificent bygone era—but lately visitors have discovered the country’s cutting edge, as well. Alongside the exploding wine scene, a sophisticated culinary movement has taken off. Farmers, chefs and innkeepers are revisiting—and updating—their historic appreciation for all things seasonal and local. Meanwhile an art and design renaissance has captured attention around the world, and again shot Austria to the continent’s cultural center. The innovation and sheer creativity that first put the country on the map is shimmering like never before.

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[3] © Tourismus Salzburg GmbH; [4] © 2004 TVB Innsbruck - Michael Mössmer; [5] © © Graz Tourismus

3_ Music in Europe‘s Hear t of Hear ts If “Salzburg is the heart of the heart of Europe,” as the poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal noted, the Salzburg Festival is the steady beat. Since 1920, the celebrated event has fi lled this lovely Alpine city with some of the fi nest opera, drama and concerts on the continent. From Mozart to modern, from classic interpretations to daring experimentation, only the best are invited to Salzburg each year. A visit to the festival combines high culture with the sheer pleasure of vacationing in one of the most scenic places on the globe. July 19 until September 1, 2013. www.salzburg.info

2_ A legendar y cake, in a storied cafe The year was 1832, and Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich wanted a dessert for his esteemed guests one night. Not just any dessert, but an unparalleled one that would „NOT make me look a fool.“ Problem was, Metternich‘s personal chef had fallen ill—only his 16-year-old apprentice remained. The lad‘s name was Franz Sacher, and the rest is pastry history. The most famous cake in the world, the Original Sacher-Torte has beckoned royalty and visitors alike to the legendary Café Sacher Wien ever since. Set inside the glamorous Hotel Sacher, the meticulously appointed cafe has been a cultural touchstone for the city for the better part of two centuries. Enjoy some of Vienna‘s fi nest coffee with your Original Sacher-Torte, take in the views of the Opera House next door and become part of a long— and delicious—cosmopolitan history. www.sacher.com

4_ A Wor thy Church

5 _ H a r n o n c o u r t ’s styriar te

Half a millennium ago, Ferdinand I built the Hofkirche (Court Church), a Gothic memorial to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor (1459–1519). A familial gesture then, everyone is astounded by the architectural achievement today. The most prominent tomb memorial for an emperor in Europe, the church boasts larger-than-life statues and a cenotaph that took more than 80 years to build—in midst the charming city of Innsbruck. www.innsbruck.info

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, legendary pioneer of the Early Music movement, may be feted around the world—but his roots are in his native Graz (two hours from Vienna), and so is the styriarte Festival. Founded in 1985, the three-week assemblage of operas and concerts rediscovers the Middle Ages up through Romanticism with trailblazing performers from around the world—in a gorgeous city with its historic sites and city center. www.visitgraz.com

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Pianists and pianos

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Ain’t nothing like the real thing

Photography: © 2012 MPL Communications Ltd / Photographer: Mary Ellen Matthews

This well used grand piano played a creative role in some of the greatest songs of the ’60s and ’70s. Now it has been restored to its original glory, thanks to the passion and generosity of a pop legend In 1877, the year that Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake debuted at the Bolshoi, a beautiful 9ft rosewood grand piano was crafted at the Steinway & Sons factory in New York. The instrument served various masters, undergoing several modifications on the way, until in 1967, aged 90, it passed into the illustrious hands of one of the world’s most successful record companies. Motown Records, founded by Berry Gordy in Detroit in 1960, had achieved tremendous chart success with artists such as Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. In 1967 Motown acquired Golden World records and with it came the Steinway grand piano. It became a fixture in Motown’s Studio B and played its part in the creation of some of the greatest songs in American history, as Motown continued to turn out the hits. Fast forward another 44 years and the piano once again grabbed the attention of a pop legend. Sir Paul McCartney was paying homage at the Motown Museum before playing a concert in Detroit and came across the piano. He couldn’t resist “having a tinker” on it but found that the 134-year-old instrument was in dire need of some TLC. The strings, hammers and action were shot and, sometime in its past, the legs had been replaced and the rosewood finish painted over in matte black. McCartney recognised the importance of the piano as a

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Pianists and pianos

historic artefact and offered to contribute to a full restoration. He then called Steinway & Sons with a proposition. William Youse, Director of Technical Services and Special Projects, takes up the story. “Paul asked if we would be willing to partner with him in rebuilding this historic piano and, of course, we were very excited to get involved with such an extraordinary project. We learned that the piano was restrung in the 1960s and the action was reworked on different occasions, along with several major repairs to the soundboard. There were parts from many different pianos that were used just to make it work.” The job of restoring the piano to its full authentic glory fell to the craftsmen at Steinway’s Restoration Center in Astoria, Queens. “They faced a daunting task,” says Youse. After discussions with Motown, Steinway’s artisans set about replacing the soundboard, keys, hammers, pins and strings, and restoring the case to its original condition. The fully restored piano is now back on display in Studio A at the Motown Museum in Detroit, following an unveiling ceremony at Steinway

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Above: Steinway’s restoration team gathers around the Motown piano at the Restoration Center in Astoria

Hall, New York, on 18 September 2012. Before an audience of 100 patrons of the Motown Museum, the covers were removed by McCartney and Gordy, who then performed a set of Motown and Beatles hits, including Gordy’s first hit Money (That’s What I Want), which the Beatles covered in 1963. McCartney told the story of how he had come across the piano and instigated its restoration, and said, “This piano was part of a major moment in history and now people in the future will record on it and keep the legacy of Motown alive.” They were joined by fellow artists Michael Bolton and Valerie Simpson before an auction of musical collectibles, which included a metallic white 2000 Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar signed by Paul McCartney and Berry Gordy, sheet music for the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles hit Shop Around, signed by Robinson and Gordy, and two tickets to the opening night of Motown: The Musical, which opens on Broadway this spring. The evening, entitled ‘Project: Harmony’, raised money for the Motown Museum, a not-for-profit organisation committed to preserving, protecting and presenting

Pianists and pianos

Photography: © 2012 MPL Communications Ltd / Photographer: Mary Ellen Matthews

In need of restoration?

the Motown story through authentic, inspirational and educational experiences. The revitalised Steinway & Sons grand piano will be used for performance and educational events, continuing to inspire and entertain for many years to come. n

Top: Paul McCartney and Berry Gordy perform together at the unveiling of the restored piano at Steinway Hall, New York Above: McCartney performed a set of Motown and Beatles hits

Steinway & Sons opened the Restoration Center at Astoria more than 25 years ago. This, together with the restoration facility at Steinway Hamburg, is the only place where a Steinway piano can be returned to its original beauty and performance standards while remaining 100 per cent Steinway. As William Youse, Director of Technical Services and Special Projects at the New York factory, says, “Nobody else can replace a Steinway & Sons soundboard with a Steinway & Sons soundboard, as we neither sell this extremely important part of the piano nor share its technology.” All work performed at the restoration facilities is warranted by Steinway & Sons for the same term and conditions as a brand new piano. “Here,” says Youse, “is where you come if you want your Steinway piano – signed, sealed and delivered – to remain a pure Steinway piano.”

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Pianists and pianos

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Personal service These are some examples from the stunning Lynx Special Collection, a brand new service from Steinway that presented the artist with a particularly daunting challenge Imagine. You’re presented with a brand new Steinway piano, its finish immaculate, not a scratch, not a smudge, not a blemish. To put the tiniest mark on it would seem like sacrilege – and yet that is what you must do. How would you feel? That was the challenge that faced contemporary artist Lynx when he began work as Steinway & Sons’ first ever Visual Artist in Residence. “The first time I came down it was very intimidating because the canvas was the most expensive and beautiful canvas I had ever worked on in my life. I think I probably stood there for ten minutes before I could actually put a mark on the piano. But when the paint began to melt into the lacquer, the adrenalin started pumping. It was just magic.” Lynx, aka Gary Moore, a former model from Forth Worth, Texas, first came to the attention of Steinway & Sons when he was appointed artistic director for the finalists’ photo shoot at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, of which Steinway is the main sponsor. His appointment as Visual Artist in Residence marks a new chapter in the company’s history. Inspired by musical compositions, Lynx interprets what he hears into stunning visuals, using Steinway’s upright and grand pianos as his canvases. Clients can specify a favourite piece of music and a colour palette and see their piano transformed into a unique piece of art. “It’s a very personal experience,” says Lynx. “I encourage clients to bring me their thoughts, their emotions, their music, the emotion behind what they feel about that piece. Every pattern is like a fingerprint, it’s totally unique.” The Lynx Special Collection also features the Onyx Series of pianos, which bear the artist’s work in textured finishes that utilise a new technique called atmospheric refractionism. The result is a dazzling effect of brush strokes that reflect the light in different directions, giving the appearance of an ever changing sea of patterns. Reflecting on his work, Lynx said, “I wanted to move, stir, reach, touch. I wanted to move people.” After that first hesitant brush stroke, he has succeeded in improving upon perfection. n

Above: Clair de Lune by Lynx features an abstract of vibrant colours Right: Clair de Lune’s design continues onto the music desk Below and opposite: Black Swan from the Onyx Series features the atmospheric refractionism technique, a textured finish that reflects the light in all directions and gives the impression of movement

For details about the Lynx Special Collection, visit our website: www.steinway.com/special-collections Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Steinway breathes fire into Chinese auction 56

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This Steinway Commemorative Edition Piano recently sold at auction in China for more than one million dollars. Now it’s set to become a unique record of all the artists who play it, thanks to a clever design feature

Continuing Steinway’s track record of collaborating with the world’s leading contemporary artists, this unique piano, a concert grand named Charm of the Dragon, marks the start of a story that will literally be ingrained for future generations. Designed by Chinese artist Tian Jiaqing, the piano features two foldable signature books in wood, one at each end of the music desk. The idea is that performers who play the piano can write their own testimonial in the books and the ink will seep into the grain of the wooden pages, leaving a permanent record of instrument and artist together. Charm of the Dragon is the first piano from the Steinway Commemorative Edition to be designed and sold in China. It was unveiled last October and put on sale at the Inspiration-Artistic Design auction, where it fetched RMB6.9million (about $1.1million). Jiaqing, an expert on Chinese furniture, took his inspiration from classic Chinese imagery and blended it with state-of-the-art design. The piano is decorated with a dragon motif (2012 was the Chinese Year of the Dragon), symbolising power, vitality, integrity and dignity, while the music desk is based on the shape of the traditional Chinese fan and the bench takes its distinctive form from the guqin, an ancient Chinese stringed instrument. Charm of the Dragon was the headline lot at Inspiration-Artistic Design, where other lots included items of jewellery and sculpture. The buyer was a Chinese collector, who will also enjoy the benefits of Steinway & Sons’ transport and tuning service for any important musical occasions, as well as a consulting service with regard to maintenance. We look forward to seeing how those signature books fill up over the years. n

Opposite: Charm of the Dragon, together with its bench, designed to reflect the shape of the ancient instrument the guqin Top: the delicate music desk, based on the iconic Chinese fan Above: the dragon motif represents the year of the piano’s birth, 2012, the Year of the Dragon

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Steinway dealers’ tales

Steinway dealers around the world are expert at communicating the unique attributes of a Steinway piano, whether it’s to an opulent establishment looking to maintain its traditional grandeur or a forward-thinking school seeking to engage a new group of young musicians. Francesca Twinn talks to two dealers who’ve recently covered both ends of the spectrum 58

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Photography: Courtesy of The Imperial Hotel

Tradition meets innovation

Photography: The Salt Lake Tribune

Steinway dealers’ tales

Christmas at the Imperial Hotel in New Delhi has always been celebrated with gusto, but last Christmas there was something extra special under the tree: a beautiful mahogany Hamburg Steinway Model S-155 baby grand piano. The piano was bought through Steinway dealer BX Furtado & Sons of Mumbai, whose manager, Oliver Peters, oversaw the sale. “The Imperial is one of the heritage hotels in the heart of India’s capital,” says Peters. “This hotel also boasts one of only two wooden-floored ballrooms in Delhi, the other being the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s house). Since years gone by they have always had a grand piano in the lobby. This was the first hotel with an artist playing live music every evening.” The Model S was bought for the hotel’s brasserie Nostalgia at 1911, which, according to General Manager Vijay Wanchoo, “promises classic evenings for couples, with live music and European cuisine flambéed at the table”. The sale of this piano began a year-and-a-half back, when the Imperial’s purchase director Sanjay Verghese was asked to buy a grand piano by the

Opposite page: Nostalgia at1911 Brasserie in the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi, with its latest addition, a Steinway Model S-155 Above: new computer software PNOScan, demonstrated by 150-year-old Steinway dealership Daynes Music of Utah

hotel’s owners. But it wasn’t plain sailing. “He had a tough time in selecting a good piano with a limited budget,” recalls Peters. “He asked for quotations from Steinway and two other brands and after going through the quotations he realised the price of a Steinway far exceeded his budget.” Peters spoke to Verghese and explained to him the Steinway philosophy. “After the discussion he understood what Steinway is about: build the best piano possible, simply the best. The high level of traditional craftsmanship, painstaking attention to detail and premium grade materials used to build every piano in Hamburg impressed him.” Verghese went back to the owners and explained the Steinway philosophy to them, after which they quickly agreed to increase the budget. “The very next day,” says Peters, “Sanjay Verghese confirmed the order with us.” The Imperial is the first Indian hotel in recent years to buy a brand new Steinway. The baby grand, at 155cm long, was first introduced in the ’30s, and that alone makes it the perfect choice for the Imperial, which was built in 1931. Upon Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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delivery, the owners’ decision to extend the budget was seen to be a wise one. “It’s purely a masterpiece,” says Wanchoo, “which has been acquired for an extraordinary and international live music experience for enthusiasts. The whole idea is to engage the audience with soulful music while they enjoy a romantic evening at Nostalgia. “Dealing with Furtados has been wonderful and we at the Imperial take pride in what they have contributed to music in this country. They have been extremely professional but with a personal touch; they believe in handholding the client till the last mile.” Celebrations have also been taking place at Daynes Music of Midvale, Utah, following the marking of its 150th anniversary in 2012. Fourth generation owner Skip Daynes recounts some of the facts and achievements of his family’s business. “Our store started in 1862. My great-grandfather was the founder and his son was appointed the first Tabernacle organist at age 14 and helped install the organ. He was the organist for thirty-three years.” It was less than a decade later that the longstanding relationship with Steinway & Sons began. “We were appointed a Steinway dealer in 1873. [Co-author of The Official Guide to Steinway Pianos] David Kirkland’s research states that we are the oldest Steinway dealer west of New York State.” Daynes Music’s longevity can be put down to a forward-thinking attitude that has passed down the generations. “Our company slogan for many years was ‘Everything in Music’. We pioneered radio, TV, stereo, and shipped music all around the world. Nowadays our industry is very specialised,” continues Daynes, who is enthusiastic about the firm evolving as the “new old-school” – embracing technology being key to its continued success. Daynes has found great success with PNOScan, a method of turning a piano into a digital keyboard. “We have taken this product to the highest

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Top left: Vijay Wanchoo, General Manager at the Imperial, can’t wait to take the ribbon off the newly acquired Model S Above: the Steinway Model S, dating from the 1930s, is the perfect fit for the period feel of Nostalgia at 1911 Brasserie

level. Daynes is working with international piano competitions, music authors, teachers and cool kids to promote the ability to plug your computer into an acoustic piano and use new programmes that promote Steinway piano sales. “We have added PNOScan to almost every piano we have sold in the last two years. The word is getting out! Now young teens are bringing in their iPads to plug them into a Steinway.” Daynes gives praise to his Vice President, Kerwin Ipsen, for pioneering this exciting development. It’s not just youngsters who are being won over by the new technology. Daynes tells the story about a couple, Ian and Anette, who came in looking for a used Steinway. “We had a very nice B in the warehouse, with carved legs and sides, made in the 1940s. It had one small crack in the soundboard, with the dark mahogany needing refinishing, action parts and strings. Anette called it a ‘funky’ piano. “Money was no object but Ian said she couldn’t have it! Too big, needed work etc. The next day I talked him into seeing PNOScan. We pulled up ‘Home Concert Extreme’ and a keyboard appeared on the bottom of the laptop screen showing him in

Photography: Courtesy of The Imperial Hotel

Steinway dealers’ tales

Photography: Scott Sommerdorf / The Salt Lake Tribune

Steinway dealers’ tales

red where to put his finger. The orchestra played until he found the next red marked key. ‘We need this on our Steinway,” he said. Anette looked confused. ‘You know,’ he went on, ‘the one in the warehouse… the funky one.’ “We refinished, rebuilt and delivered it to them in their beautiful home. It is a treasure for Ian and a centerpiece for Anette.” Daynes, who helped launch the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition in 1976 by donating a Steinway piano worth over $50,000 to the winner, is proof that longevity comes from embracing the new, and he is passionate about nurturing young pianists. His latest venture is UPlay, a collaboration with the University of Utah and music software developer ePiano, which takes the form of an online piano lab for elementary schoolchildren. UPlay offers kids who would not normally have the privilege of access to a piano a chance to learn the instrument online. “Our store is now 150 years old and I am 74. If we do not join our world, we will be left behind,” he says. And then with characteristic determination he proclaims, “We will not be left behind!” n

Above: the forward-thinking Skip Daynes, current owner of Daynes Music, which has been in business for 150 years and started selling Steinway pianos 140 years ago

A sound investment A Steinway & Sons piano isn’t just a beautiful instrument, it is also a shrewd investment. Steinways normally sell on for 85 per cent of the price of a new piano. And because they can last for over 100 years if properly cared for, you could find yourself making your money back in time. That’s why it made sense for the Imperial Hotel, New Delhi, to find the extra budget to buy its new Steinway Model S. It helps to have a bank that understands the value of art and beauty, such as Swiss private bank Lombard Odier, which manages investments for private and institutional clients and pays particular interest to their longterm ambitions and hopes, from owning an outstanding musical instrument to sponsoring music at the highest level. With the right planning and advice, that new Steinway need not be a pipe dream.

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Steinway personalities

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“Understanding music in philosophical terms is no less essential than the philosophical understanding of human nature�

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Daniel

Photography: Felix Broede/DG; Richard Schuster

Barenboim

The year 2012 marked the 70th birthday of a man who has become the best recognised and most highly respected figure in classical music today: the pianist, conductor and visionary idealist Daniel Barenboim. And what a year it was, reaching its zenith on the opening night of the London 2012 Olympic Games. That evening, the cycle of complete Beethoven symphonies that Barenboim conducted at the Proms with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra came to its climax with the Ninth, programmed in the early evening to allow the audience to view the Olympics opening ceremony later. When they did so, there was Barenboim again: he appeared as one of eight great humanitarian figures who carried the Olympic flag into the stadium. Barenboim is probably the only classical musician in the world who could have taken that place. He is renowned not only for his towering musicianship but also his philosophical discourse about such matters as the relationship between the processes of music and those of our lives and, of course, the ever-thornier situation between Israel and the Palestinians, which inspired him and the Palestinian author Edward Said to join forces to create the WestEastern Divan Orchestra. Founded in 1999, it brings together young Israeli and Arabic musicians who otherwise would never have had a chance to meet and work together, recognising common ground. Barenboim was born in Buenos Aires in 1942, the son of two piano teachers who were both RussianJewish immigrants. “Whenever the doorbell rang, it was somebody coming for a piano lesson with either my mother or my father, so in my childish brain everyone played the piano,” Barenboim recalls. He was a prodigy at the piano; conducting, though, was always a joint passion. His vital influences in both fields included some of the 20th century’s most significant musicians, among them Arthur Rubinstein, Edwin Fischer, Sir John Barbirolli and Wilhelm Furtwängler. The young musician’s precocious gifts quickly made him a superstar. In his twenties he recorded all the Beethoven piano sonatas and the complete cycle of Mozart piano concertos, conducting from the keyboard, both for EMI. During the ’60s in his adopted home, London, he and his first wife, the

Barenboim’s experience as pianist has informed his conducting and vice versa, while his philosophical understanding of music as a whole has been a major influence in his remarkable life

cellist Jacqueline du Pré, became a celebrity couple both on and off stage before her life was cruelly cut short by multiple sclerosis. Barenboim’s conducting commitments took him to bases in Paris, Chicago and eventually Berlin, where he has been music director of the Berlin Staatsoper and Staatskapelle since 1992, and is currently Conductor for Life of the latter. His awareness of orchestral and vocal colour has always informed his interpretations at the piano, while his understanding of music as a solo performer has equally fed into his activities as conductor. This is a correlation that he feels applies to Bach as much as to Beethoven. “I think Bach’s music requires the imagination to produce, on whatever keyboard instrument you play, the sounds of all the different instruments that were available to Bach,” he says. He has valuable advice to offer pianists: “The most important thing, when you practise and when you play, is the ability to listen and to hear,” he says. “Mechanical practising is totally useless. It is done mostly to calm the nerves, but it goes eventually against the quality of the performance, because you cannot use mechanical elements for practising and then totally put them aside when you play. Some mechanical activity is bound to creep into your playing. To get rid of that completely, you must practise in a musical way, which means listening and hearing what you are actually producing.” This winter has seen the publication of his latest book, Music as a Whole: Ethics and Aesthetics, with continuing insights into the significance of music that he expounded in his earlier publication Everything Is Connected: The Power of Music. “Understanding music in philosophical terms is no less essential than the philosophical understanding of human nature,” says Barenboim. In 2005 he founded a music kindergarten in Berlin to help counter the lack of musical education for the early years that he regards as a major threat to the place of music in Western society. He is now planning in Berlin a West-Eastern Divan Institute: a university at which young musicians from the Middle East can study together. For Barenboim, as the title of his book implies, everything truly is connected. n Jessica Duchen Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Photo credit:

“I put particular weight on a beautiful sound… a note that rings will inspire me”

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Menahem

Pressler

Menahem Pressler has enjoyed some 70 years as soloist, pedagogue and, most famously, guiding light of the celebrated Beaux Arts Trio. The Steinway Artist, who will turn 90 this December, has made little accommodation to age. He’s still giving piano recitals and playing chamber music, and still devoting much of his time to the next generation of pianists, whether he meets them at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where he spent some 60 years, or at any number of masterclasses around the world. Of his own career, Pressler has said, “There was a great deal of luck at the start.” Born in 1923 in Magdeburg, Germany, he fled the Nazis in 1939 and emigrated to what was then Palestine. His teachers included Leo Kestenberg and Egon Petri (both Busoni pupils), as well as Eduard Steuermann. He was living in Israel when he was encouraged by an older pianist to enter a piano competition in far-flung San Francisco in 1946. After an arduous journey from Israel via Cairo, Pressler landed in New York. He was picked up at the airport by the American impresario Max Rabinoff, whom he had met briefly in Israel. Rabinoff took Pressler under his wing, even bringing him to Steinway Hall so he could practise for the competition. In her book Always Something New to Discover: Menahem Pressler and the Beaux Arts Trio, Cynthia Wilson takes some of the myth-making out of the story, starting with the fact that Pressler was 22, not 17 as sometimes claimed. It’s true that he was required to memorise twenty-seven Debussy pieces for the competition and that Debussy’s music was hard to find in Israel. It was only when he arrived in New York that he was able to buy the missing eight scores (actually just one), learning them on the train out to San Francisco (true) and winning the competition that launched his career (true). So if luck is a factor in his career, one must give equal or greater credit to Pressler’s genial personality and, most importantly of all, his brilliant pianism and musicality. On the heels of the Debussy competition, Pressler made his American concert debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, and took up a string of orchestral engagements.

Now in his 90th year, Menahem Pressler continues to delight audiences with his recitals and chamber music, and to inspire the young generation of aspiring pianists with his energy and focus

He could have continued as a soloist but in 1955 he joined violinist Daniel Guilet and cellist Bernard Greenhouse to give the first performance of the Beaux Arts Trio at the Tanglewood (then Berkshire) Music Festival in Massachusetts. That concert shook up the music world, and not only because of the group’s fine playing. The Beaux Arts had proved that a piano trio could be a unified ensemble, more like a string quartet and less like a temporarily collaborating group of soloists – the usual unsatisfying situation for trios. “We achieved a sense of balance that is to this day unequalled,” Pressler said in 1986. Over the fifty-five years of its existence, the Beaux Arts performed and recorded nearly all of the great piano trio literature. Pressler’s position remained constant throughout, but the violinist changed (Guilet, Isidore Cohen, Ida Kavafian, Yung Uck Kim, Daniel Hope) as did the cellist (Greenhouse, Peter Wiley, Antonio Meneses). The Beaux Arts gave its farewell tour in the 2007-08 season. Pressler is a longtime Steinway loyalist and he spoke with Wilson about what he looks for in a piano (he has chosen around twenty concert grands for Indiana University). “I put particular weight on a beautiful sound, so for me, a note that rings will inspire me. I look for a piano that sounds as long as possible. The action is second: it certainly should not be too heavy so that you struggle with it, or light so that you struggle with it too. Ice skates! Sound first, action second. With a good sound, I can live with the action.” Watching him in a masterclass at the Verbier Festival a few summers ago, I was struck by the energy and intense focus that seem to radiate out from him to a student sixty-five years his junior. Pressler stood at the piano, touching the instrument and studying the student’s playing closely. He has said that as a performer he looks for the part of him that “responds to inspiration – and that is what I would like to give someone because I know what it means to me”. The search for that inspiration is behind the entire life’s music-making from this extraordinary man. n Inge Kjemtrup Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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“The piano is a very finicky instrument to record, with an existential problem: attack followed by decay, every note a death�

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Jeremy

Photography: Michael Wilson; Getty Images

Denk

Many concert pianists fancy themselves excellent writers but they generally prefer to keep this talent well hidden until they sit down to write their memoirs. That such memoirs are rarely a success is not something that’s often considered before pen hits paper. Should Jeremy Denk ever sit down to write his memoirs (which seems a bit premature as he is only 42), he would have a ready-made audience who already know his writings through his blog, ‘Think Denk’ (jeremydenk.net/blog). Denk’s literary efforts can also be found in programme notes and in the pages of distinguished magazines such as The New Republic, The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review. Denk isn’t one to shy away from long thoughts or offbeat subjects. His novella-length blog postings cover topics as diverse as coffee, jet-lag, bad programme note writing (“From the moment I walk on stage, I have to defend the work from the abuse of the program annotator”) and performance conventions (“Classical performers aren’t Civil War re-enactors, we’re actually Doctor Frankensteins!”). The length and infrequency of the postings probably correlates with the amount of touring Denk does, another favourite topic of his blog. If this makes him sound cantankerous, rest assured that a sense of humour shines throughout Denk’s writing. He spends much of a recent posting, An Artist in Residence Eats Breakfast, poking fun at himself, but he does take music seriously, enough to write an insightful essay on Schumann: “Schumann may not be so much a composer of pieces as he is of visions, visions breaking through obscurity…” Denk grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico. His family was not especially musical, which may or may not explain why he holds degrees both in chemistry and music from Oberlin College (he also has a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School of Music). In 1997 he won the William Petschek Piano Debut Recital Award, which gave him a recital at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center. Receiving an Avery Fisher Career Grant and winning a Young Concert Artists audition cemented his solo career. Many concertgoers will also know him through his partnership with the violinist Joshua Bell, with whom he recorded a CD entitled

Whether immersing himself in Ligeti’s Études or defending some work from the “abuse of the program annotator” in concert, Jeremy Denk is an articulate and intelligent pianist who takes his music very seriously but is not afraid to poke fun at himself

French Impressions. Talking about his colleague to the New York Times, Bell said, “You get the intellectual musicians or those who wear their heart on their sleeve without a lot of musical thought, but Jeremy manages to do both, and that’s ideal.” Denk’s discography also includes Bach partitas, music by American composer Leon Kirchner and several discs with various chamber music partners. More recently, for the Nonesuch label, he’s paired Ligeti’s Études with Beethoven’s last piano sonata. “All in all, it’s a marvel,” wrote BBC Music Magazine of this recording. He’s also recorded the piano concerto of Henry Cowell, a pioneering but almost forgotten mid-20th century American composer, with the San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas. His busy concert schedule brings him to halls all over the US, with a forthcoming highlight of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with the National Symphony Orchestra under John Adams, scheduled for 30 May-1 June at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center. Further ahead, in 2014, he takes the reins as artistic director of the Ojai Festival and has plans to write an opera. In February 2012, Denk wrote about his experience of recording Charles Ives’ ‘Concord’ Sonata for the New Yorker. “Why do classical musicians go into the recording studio?” he asked rhetorically. His answer: “It’s a way to be visible, to escape the fleetingness of performance and to reach people who will never hear you in concert. But it’s a perverse transaction – in exchange for a considerable sum – these days, few recordings are made purely on a record company’s dime – you receive many hours of narcissistic suffering.” Denk writes about the difficulties of recording the piano with one of the best descriptions of the instrument I have ever read. “The piano is a very finicky instrument to record, with an existential problem: attack followed by decay, every note a death. You want to capture the ping, the clarity of the beginning of each note, but you also want to get the ephemeral singing tone that remains.” It’s a tricky balance to strike, but one that this Steinway Artist seems to achieve. n Inge Kjemtrup Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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“The composer comes first, not the interpreter: you should always try to serve the music�

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Photography: Jean Baptiste Millot; Peter Mathis

Till

Fellner

For any classical music lover the word ‘Vienna’ conjures up a wealth of associations. Till Fellner, though, is not intimidated by the matchless musical heritage of his native city, once home to Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler and Schoenberg. “We do have a rich concert life,” Fellner remarks. “That’s how I first became interested in music: my parents took me to concerts when I was a child. But Vienna today is a modern city – it’s not as if we can feel something magical in the air.” Nevertheless, over his twenty year career to date Fellner has often been associated with the Viennese classics. Critics home in on his clarity, his sensitivity and his mix of discipline with humour and poetry; the New York Times has praised him as “a complete pianist and probing musician”. It was in 1990 that he first had the opportunity to play to Alfred Brendel, who became his chief mentor and a vital formative influence. “After the first lesson he told me I could call him again and since then I have met him two or three times a year for very intense work. It’s definitely the most important thing that happened to me in my musical life. “Mr Brendel always told me that the composer comes first, not the interpreter: you should always try to serve the music. Another quality that has left a great impact on me is the way he can work on every musical detail, but at the same time give you an overview of the whole piece. This is also true in his playing. Some musicians are so concerned with detail that they can sound a little pedantic and lose the sense of overarching line; others play with a lot of passion but miss some of the refinements.” In 1993 Fellner won the Clara Haskil Competition in Switzerland, which launched him in earnest. “You have to play a few studies in the first round,” he recounts, “but after that it’s more or less Clara Haskil’s repertory: plenty of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, some 20th century music. It really suited my artistic aims. That’s why I tried it – and I got lucky.” Since then, he has scaled some of the highest peaks of the piano repertoire, most recently the complete Beethoven sonatas

Inspired but not daunted by his Viennese heritage, Till Fellner has developed a deep appreciation of contemporary composers like Harrison Birtwistle and has been taking composition lessons

– a musical journey that encompassed more than a hundred recitals, with ten complete cycles in major centres including Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. “It was probably the most wonderful thing I have done so far,” he says. “The pieces are so different – Beethoven never repeats himself in these thirty-two sonatas and there is no weak piece among them.” Through 2012, though, Fellner enjoyed a well deserved sabbatical – not least, using the time to take composition lessons. “It’s always been a dream for me to have lessons on a regular basis, but when you travel all the time this is not possible. This year I had a lesson every week and I had to do my homework every day.” He has also written an essay about the music of Luis Buñuel’s films. “I like his subversion, his humour and his combination of reality and dream worlds, and his use of music is very special.” Back at the piano, contemporary music looms large in Fellner’s plans for 2013, especially that of Harrison Birtwistle. In June he and the tenor Mark Padmore give the world premiere of a new song cycle by the British composer at the Aldeburgh Festival; before that, ECM is releasing his recording of Birtwistle chamber music with his trio, the violinist Lisa Batiashvili and the cellist Adrian Brendel (son of Alfred), and with the singers Roderick Williams and Amy Freston. “I find Birtwistle profound and fascinating,” Fellner says. “It is amazing that without traditional tonality he can hold the tension from the first to the very last note – there is always a big line through a piece. I don’t know how he does it, but I really love his music.” Where pianos are concerned, he suggests, “Every instrument is different, so you have to respect the character of each one. Within its character, the piano has to be even – at every dynamic, no note should stick out. I try to work with the piano technician and to tell him what I want regarding the action and the voicing. For me this is one of the most important elements of preparing for a concert. And a really good Steinway is the best you can get.” n Jessica Duchen Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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“Life as a pianist can be quite lonely; it’s not a social instrument”

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Francesco

Photography: Marco Borggreve; Felix Broede

Piemontesi

London’s music critics rarely agree on anything, but when it came to Francesco Piemontesi’s debut recital in the International Piano Series at the Southbank Centre last November, they were unanimous in their praise. Andrew Clements in the Guardian described Piemontesi’s playing as “free from flamboyant musical gestures” and “considered and unfussily precise pianism, which repays close listening, and doesn’t reveal all its subtleties easily”. Ivan Hewett Over of the Daily Telegraph admired a “superbly self-possessed artist” who “has technique to burn”, but added that the many striking moments in the recital owed nothing to the ‘wow’ factor.” Yet there does seem to be some kind of ‘wow’ factor with this bookish-looking 29-year-old Swiss pianist. “I’m a little in awe of him,” admits one woman who works with him. Then there’s Alfred Brendel, who, in presenting Piemontesi with the Newcomer of the Year Award at the 2012 BBC Music Magazine Awards, described him as “a young pianist of real talent, of natural poise and grace, of wonderful technical equipment and of the ability to remind us of what beautiful playing means”. How exactly has he found himself on top of the classical world in such a short amount of time? The predictable part of the story begins with his childhood in the Italian part of Switzerland. Despite showing early interest in the piano, his parents thought that he might want to play a more “social instrument”, the violin. “After two lessons, the teacher told my parents that the only thing I wanted was to stop playing violin and go to her old piano,” Piemontesi recalled. “We switched to piano and stayed with that.” He was 4 years old. After that narrow escape, his piano pathway was clear, and he received excellent training from Nora Doallo (in Lugano) and Arie Vardi (in Hanover). At 10 or 11 he suddenly found himself overwhelmed by the trills at the end of Beethoven’s Opus 111 Sonata in a recording by Radu Lupu. “I think this was one of the moments when my musical life changed, when I suddenly understood what was possible with this black monster in front of me.” He was mentored by the likes of Brendel, Cécile Ousset and Alexis Weissenberg and first came to international attention after scooping up top prizes

Francesco Piemontesi’s bookish looks and cerebral approach belie a sociable musician who has embraced chamber music to compensate for the loneliness of life as a pianist

at competitions, including the 2007 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. Offers followed from halls around the world and he received a fellowship from the BorlettiBuitoni Trust and was selected as a BBC New Generation Artist. He has several recordings to his name, including a well-regarded mixed recital disc for Avanti. A new disc for Naïve, of concertos by Dvořák and Schumann with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jiři Bělohlávek, is due out in April. So far, so unsurprising, but what sets Piemontesi apart from more flashy young stars is his cerebral side, very evident when it comes to talk about the piano itself. “I’ve always been interested in the technical aspect of musical instruments,” he explains. “I do quite a lot by myself, eg tuning, string changing and voicing. A couple of times a year, top-class technicians, for instance Thomas Hübsch, work on my pianos and I am always very happy to be learning something from them.” He owns a Steinway Model B, a conventional “classic black”, but his Model A, designed by the late Swedish architect Ivar Tengbom, is more unusual. “It has black-and-white elements and that’s why friends used to joke about my ‘bar piano’, but I am completely in love with this instrument,” he says. “Its sound is just phenomenal.” This summer Piemontesi will be performing at the Gstaad Festival on 31 July and at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York on 20-22 August. In concert, of course, an unfamiliar piano can be a worry. Not for Piemontesi. “If a skilful technician is at work, the piano is never a problem. More often it is the hall which you have to struggle with.” He’s philosophical about the career he’s chosen. “Life as a pianist can be quite lonely; it’s not a social instrument. I try to compensate by doing chamber music.” He’s picked excellent partners, among them Renaud and Gautier Capuçon, Yuri Bashmet, Heinrich Schiff and the Ebène Quartet. “One of the most exciting things in our job is that you can plan, discuss and study everything, but in the end there’s this spontaneous thing that happens.” The possibilities for Piemontesi and his “black monster” seem infinite. n Inge Kjemtrup Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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European tour

When planning an itinerary for a tour of Europe, why not make music your theme? Tim McCann and Inge Kjemtrup pick out the musical hotspots and festivals for an unforgettable tour of the cradle of Western musical tradition

Vienna (incorporating Salzburg) Where else could a classical music tour of Europe begin but Vienna? So many music titans have lived and worked in Austria’s capital, now a World Heritage Site, including Beethoven, Schubert, Shönberg and Mozart. The city famously boasts that every night of the year some 10,000 music fans are treated to live classical music and its two great concert halls, the Konzerthaus and Musikverein Golden Hall, are not to be missed. Home to the wonderful Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Great Hall in the Musikverein is known for its exceptional acoustics and is widely regarded as one of the outstanding concert halls in the world. The building, located a stone’s throw from the magnificent Hotel Imperial, also houses the Golden Hall, a curious rectangular, opulent space, which has undergone renovation in recent years and is host to Vienna’s annual New Year’s concert. Its unique acoustics were designed to replicate that of a violin’s soundboard. Complement your musical indulgence with a break in one of the many concert cafes. While away an afternoon with a delicious coffee and apple strudel in the Cafe Braunerhof at Stallburggasse 2 in the old city while listening to the piano music of Johann Strauss. Don’t forget to visit Vienna’s

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Above: Vienna’s grandeur is well preserved in buildings like the Hofburg Imperial Palace

House of Music, located in the historical palace of Archduke Karl in the old city centre, and the Mozarthaus Vienna (www.mozarthausvienna.at), where Mozart composed The Marriage of Figaro. You can also visit the homes of other classical greats, including the house where Beethoven composed his Fourth Symphony, Haydn House where The Creation was written, and the home where Franz Schubert was born.

travel

Photography: Rex Features

Salzburg and Grafenegg festivals Once the Wiener Festwochen (10 May16 June; www.festwochen.at) has ended, Vienna can be quiet, musically speaking, in the summer. So leave the city and head for festivals outside Vienna, including the famous Salzburg Festival (19 July1 September; www.salzburgerfestspiele.at). Founded in 1920 by a group of artists including Richard Strauss and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Salzburg is notable for important stagings and themes, this year including a Mahler cycle with an array of international orchestras. Just an hour or so away from Vienna, on the grounds of the castle that stands on a vineyard covered hill, a visitor to the Grafenegg Festival (16 August-8 September; www.grafenegg.com) can attend concerts in the Wolkenturm (cloud tower), a magical name for a remarkable place. With Steinway Artist Rudolf Buchbinder at its helm, this festival boasts many excellent pianists, this year including Khatia Buniatishvili, Yuja Wang (making her Grafenegg debut) and the Labèque Sisters.

Top: a view of Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace, from the lofty fortress of Hohensalzburg Above: feel the spirit of Mozart at the Mozarthaus Vienna, where he composed The Marriage of Figaro

No trip to Vienna would be complete without making an excursion to see the beautiful city of Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart. The alpine backdrop and stunning baroque architecture are reason enough to visit, but the composer’s connection with the city means a few hours spent exploring the Mozart family home, at the Hagenauer House at Getreidegasse 9, will be high on your priority list. A five minute stroll from here will take you to Mozart’s Residence, where the family moved in 1773. Both museums are open daily with late closing in July and August. Entrance costs around 10 euros.

Getting to vienna: Vienna-Schwechat Airport. Excellent rail links with continental Europe. Two hours from Salzburg. Orient Express destination on the Venice to Vienna route.

Don’t miss: Taking one of the many guided walks around Vienna, visiting the homes of the famous composers from Mozart to Mahler.

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Located on the shore of the Baltic Sea, St Petersburg is home to a rich and diverse cultural heritage. The great Dmitri Shostakovich dedicated his 7th Symphony to the city that was his birthplace and home, calling it the Leningrad Symphony. The work premiered at the Bolshoy Philharmonic Hall when the city was besieged by the German Army in 1942. You can visit the hall today and listen to the wonderful St Petersburg Philharmonic in resplendent surroundings. Another essential item on your itinerary is a visit to the Mariinsky Theatre, which was originally built

Stars of the White Nights Festival The Midnight Sun, the long, bright summer nights of St Petersburg when the sun sets shortly before midnight, are celebrated with the annual Stars of the White Nights Festival (24 May-14 July; www.mariinsky.ru). The festival is directed by Valery Gergiev and many concerts will take place at the new Mariinsky Concert Hall. As we went to press the events had not yet been announced, but if it follows on from previous form, this will be one lavish festival.

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Above left: the iconic sight of St Petersburg’s most eye-catching structure, the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood Above right: the Palace Square, viewed through the arches of the General Staff building Below: the beautiful interior of the Hermitage Museum, home to one of the world’s finest collections of art

as an opera house in 1860 and is home to the Kirov Ballet – now known as the Mariinsky Ballet – and Mariinsky Opera Company. St Petersburg is known as the ‘City of Museums’ and there are some 200 to explore, notably the Hermitage Museum, home to Russia’s foremost art gallery. Located at the Winter Palace on the banks of the Neva river, this former residence of the Russian tsars contains works by Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and Van Gogh among many others. It’s open Monday to Saturday between 10.30am and 6pm.

Getting to st petersburg: St Petersburg is well served by all major Western airlines. Good rail connections to Berlin and Moscow. Winter months can see temperatures plummet to well below freezing, so summer and spring travel is recommended.

Don’t miss: The many palaces of St Petersburg, which have been lovingly restored in recent years, including Peterhof Park and Gardens, Peter the Great’s Versailles-inspired palace.

Photography: Rex Features

St Petersburg

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Call toll-free 1-888-966-8687 or visit ngexpeditions.com/travel Above: Catching the last light, Tibet’s extraordinary Potala Palace glows against the slate-colored slopes of the Himalaya.

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Getting to prague: Prague is served by Vaclav Havel Airport. Excellent rail links with other major European cities, including Vienna, Berlin and Zurich.

Don’t miss:

The ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ is one of Europe’s best loved travel destinations. In addition to the many museums and galleries, it is home to dozens of concert halls with music events running throughout the year. The Czech Philharmonic, founded by Dvorák, is based at the Rudolfinum, Prague’s principal concert hall. This magnificent neoclassical building has been home to the orchestra since 1946 and is situated on Jan Palach Square, on the banks of the river Vltava. Visit the Dvorák Museum at the Vila Amerika, located in the heart of Prague at Ke Karlovu 20, open from Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 5pm.

Top left: Prague’s Bedrich Smetana Museum, dedicated to ‘the father of Czech music’ Top right: the magnificent neoclassical Rudolfinum, Prague’s foremost concert venue Above: inside the Rudolfinum is every bit as grand as its exterior

Prague was also home to the man the Czech people regard as the ‘Father of Czech music’, Bedrich Smetana. A museum charting the life and work of the great man can be found at Novotného Lávka 1, on the riverbank, and is open Wednesday to Monday 10am to 5pm. Below: the unmistakeable sight of Notre Dame tells us we’re in Paris

Prague Spring In the long, dark years of Communist control of the Czech lands, the Prague Spring of 1968 was a brief breath of fresh air, all too quickly extinguished. The festival of the same name is now in its 68th year and has always boasted excellent music making – no matter who was running the country. The 2013 Prague Spring (12 May-2 June; www.festival.cz) features pianists Leif Ove Andsnes and Garrick Ohlsson, among others.

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Wenceslas Square for restaurants and shopping. Prague Castle also commands fine views over the city. The stunning Art Nouveau Municipal House containing the Smetana Concert Hall is also well worth an excursion.

Paris The French capital hardly needs any introduction. Paris is one of the world’s richest cultural centres, festooned with galleries, gastronomy and great music venues. First on your list has to be the Cité de la Musique, located in the La Villette quarter. This huge, modern complex, opened in 1995, houses a concert hall, amphitheatre and wonderful museum, with an exquisite collection of classical instruments spanning the last 500 years. It is also home to the Paris Philharmonic, a 2,500 seat concert hall, which is due to be completed in 2014.

Photography: Emma Smales; Getty Images; Rex Features

Prague

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Getting to paris:

Above: the famous glass pyramid of the Louvre, home to Paris’ most priceless collection of art

Paris has several major international airports and is also a main rail hub with high-speed links to continental Europe and London.

While you wait for the next Chopin competition to start in 2015, you can attend the city’s Beethoven Festival (17-29 March; www.beethoven.org.pl). This year, there’s a Liszt-focused recital from Simon Trpceski and a concert featuring Barry Douglas, on tour with the Camerata Ireland.

Don’t miss:

Warsaw

Palais Garnier, the 2,000 seat opera house, which is home to the Paris Opera and famous for its opulent interior decor. Stop to admire the painted ceiling by Marc Chagall, which depicts the works of fourteen composers.

Chopin spent the first half of his short life in Warsaw and, although he was buried in Paris when he died at the age of 39, his heart was famously removed, immersed in Cognac and has been kept ever since in Warsaw’s Church of the Holy Cross. This historic site is located on the Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of Warsaw’s best-known streets, opposite the main Warsaw University buildings. Ostrogski Palace, at 1 Okolnik Street, is home to the Chopin Museum. Here you can view the composer’s original manuscripts, in addition to finding out more about his life and works. Also worth a visit is the Chopin Family Drawing Room, described by the composer as his “refuge”, which is located in Krasinski Palace on Krakowskie Przedmiescie in the city.

At 38 Rue au Pain in the west of the city is the house, dating back to the 1650s, where Claude Debussy was born, now serving as the Debussy Museum. If you have time, check out the Maurice Ravel Museum, around 20km from the centre of Paris in the picturesque town of Montfort L’Amaury. You can take in the Palace of Versailles on the way. Top right: the grand frontage of Warsaw National Opera Left: market place in Warsaw’s historic old town district Below: the Chopin Museum offers a glimpse of some of the composer’s original manuscripts

Getting to warsaw: All major airlines fly to Warsaw. Good rail links to other major European capitals.

Don’t miss: Concerts in Lazienki Park next to the Chopin Monument from May to September. The Royal Lazienki Museum, complete with gardens, artistic collections and Chopin recitals.

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TRavel

Situated in the heart of Germany’s beautiful Bavaria, Munich has been home to Mozart, Mahler and Beethoven, to name just three. The Munich Philharmonic holds regular concerts at the Gasteig, a sprawling modern cultural centre at Rosenheimer Straße 5, which hosts over 1,500 events every year, including a wide range of classical performances. A short stroll away is the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest museum of science and technology. Munich is also home to the Bavarian State Opera, a venue that has seen a host of famous world premieres over the centuries, such as Richard

Getting to munich: Munich International Airport and excellent rail links with continental Europe.

Don’t miss: The annual Oktoberfest beer festival, from late September to October, or a trip to the Baroque Nymphenburg Palace. Lovers of the music of Richard Strauss can also visit the Villa Strauss, an hour’s drive from Munich just outside Garmisch.

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Bayreuth Festival Above: the auditorium of the Bavarian State Opera Below: a classic view of Munich, showing the city hall on the Marienplatz and the red-roofed Frauenkirche beyond

When it comes to exclusive and hard-toget-into festivals, it’s difficult to surpass the Bayreuth Festival (25 July-28 August; www.bayreuther-Festspiele.de). Even if you registered for entry last autumn, you may still have to wait several years for available tickets. But for hardcore Wagner fans, Bayreuth, founded by the composer in 1876 and still run today by his descendants, is an unmissable pilgrimage site. Those who’ve been will tell you that the special acoustics of the Festspielhaus and the overall atmosphere make the long wait worthwhile.

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Das Rheingold. A guided tour will take you behind the scenes of the performances and reveal the rich history of this magnificent venue. No trip to Bavaria would be complete without visiting Bayreuth, about two hours’ drive north of Munich. The town is synonymous with Wagner, who lived here for a decade up to his death in 1883. His villa, Wahnfried, is now a stunning museum celebrating his life and works. Bayreuth is also home to the monthlong Wagner Festival, where his operas are performed at the Festspielhaus.

Photography: Wilfried Hösl; Rex Features; Alamy; Emma Smales

Munich (incorporating Bayreuth)

travel

Milan Of all the attractions of Milan – and there’s no shortage – La Scala opera house should be number one on your list. For over 200 years all of the great operatic performers have appeared at this fine venue, and it has staged world premieres of works by Verdi, Rossini and Puccini. Today, this most famous of all opera houses continues to host sumptuous opera and ballet productions, concerts and recitals throughout the year. Milan is also a world centre of fine art and was home to Leonardo da Vinci. Don’t leave town without visiting the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, containing Leonardo’s masterpiece The Last Supper. For more music, head over to the Auditorium di Milano, a modern concert hall, which is highly regarded for its excellent acoustics. Home to the Orchestra Verdi, concerts here run from September to June and feature a variety of acclaimed international artists and guest conductors.

Above: Piazza del Duomo in the heart of Milan, a short walk from La Scala and the Quad d’Oro through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (pictured below), Italy’s oldest shopping mall

Getting to milan: Milan has two main airports, both well served by domestic and international airlines. Rail links with Italy’s major cities and beyond to Paris, Geneva and Vienna.

Don’t miss: A shopping trip to the Quad d’Oro, the so-called Rectangle of Gold, which is home to Milan’s world famous fashion district.

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Budapest Spring Festival The Hungarian capital is proud of its unique music tradition, from folk to classical to jazz. All these genres get an outing in the Budapest Spring Festival (22 March-7 April; www.btf. hu). The Hungarian National Philharmonic marks Bartók’s birthday (25 March) here each year, while the close relationship between Wagner and his father-in-law, Liszt, is the theme of Endre Hegedüs’ piano recital.

Budapest Hungary’s capital is often cited as one of the most beautiful of all European cities, packed with medieval architecture, grand avenues and plazas. The city is also home to over 200 museums and galleries, in addition to the neoclassical Hungarian State Opera House, famous for its vaulted ceiling murals, marble columned foyer and huge chandeliers. The venue is also home to the Hungarian National Ballet and Philharmonic. Set time aside for a visit to the Museum of Music History. This charming building, located on Castle Hill, is open from Tuesday to Sunday and charts the history of Hungarian music, from the folk traditions of centuries ago to the work of Kodaly, Bartók and Liszt.

Leipzig

Top: inside the utterly grand Hungarian State Opera House Above: Budapest’s Széchenyi chain bridge spans the river Danube, with the parliament building in the background Left: view of Budapest across the Danube from the citadel

This Saxony town of half a million people punches well above its weight in terms of classical music heritage. For over 800 years Leipzig has been a major cultural centre and was home to such greats as Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn. The Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Gewandhaus Concert hall, now in its third incarnation on Augustusplatz, have been the city’s musical heart and soul for centuries. Saint Thomas Boys Choir was formed over 800 years ago from church services organised by the Augustinian Canons of the time. Its most famous choirmaster was JS Bach himself. Cantatas and motets performed by the choir can be heard every Friday evening and Saturday afternoon at Saint Thomas Church. The Leipzig Opera, located at Dreilindenstraße 30, fronts an unbroken tradition of opera dating back more than 300 years. The magnificent venue stages spectacular traditional and modern operas and ballets throughout the year.

Below: the Thomaskirche, Leipzig, where Bach was choirmaster

Getting to budapest: Though not a major hub, Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is well served by many short-haul operators. High-speed rail links with twenty-five European cities.

Don’t miss: The Liszt Ferenc Memorial Museum, host to regular concerts and recitals.

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Photography: Rex Features; Vera Eder; Gautier Deblonde

Bachfest Leipzig Walk the streets of Leipzig and you will soon find yourself in the footsteps of Robert and Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms and, most famously, JS Bach, who played in the Thomaskirche and directed the choir, which still exists today. The annual Bachfest (14-23 June; www.bach-leipzig.de) celebrates the master’s music in sometimes unexpected ways. Don’t miss Steinway Artist Nicholas Angelich in the ‘Goldberg’ Variations.

travel

Aldeburgh, BBC Proms and City of London festival 2013 is the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth and no place is this more creatively celebrated than the Aldeburgh Festival (7-23 June; www.aldeburgh.co.uk), founded by Britten in 1948. The performances of his opera Peter Grimes on the Aldeburgh Beach will sell out quickly, but also worthy of notice are several piano recitals devised by PierreLaurent Aimard, including a twenty-composer spectacular recital on 11 June. Musical connoisseurs turn up their noses at the vast, often stuffy space of London’s Royal Festival Hall, but come to the BBC Proms (12 July-7 September; www.bbc.co.uk/proms) and you will likely forget these problems. With the BBC orchestras providing the backbone and one musical star after another, the Proms goes from strength to strength. The full programme will be announced in spring. In the awkward period between the end of London’s regular concert season and the BBC Proms, the City of London Festival (23 June-26 July; www.colf.org) is a welcome annual event. The festival bypasses more well-trodden venues for churches and guild halls in the City. This year there’s a Britten strand (the War Requiem in St Paul’s Cathedral will be hugely popular) and many offbeat events besides.

Getting to leipzig: Leipzig/Halle Airport serves domestic and European carriers. The huge Hauptbahnhof rail terminal has good connections with destinations throughout Germany and beyond.

Don’t miss: The Bach Museum, Thomaskirchhof 15/16, where you can arrange a Bach chorale and explore the gorgeous sound of baroque instruments.

London London’s classical music heritage is broad and far-reaching. The English capital is home to some of the best music venues in the world, from the Royal Albert Hall, home to the Proms, to the Barbican Centre (London Symphony Orchestra), Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square and the beautifully restored Royal Opera House, to name but a few. London’s rich history also includes a host of composers who lived and worked here. Joseph Haydn stayed regularly during the 1790s and the city is said to have inspired some his best known work, such as the London Symphony. George Frideric Handel also lived here for over 30 years until his death in 1759. The lovely Handel House Museum at 25 Brook Street, the composer’s former home, hosts regular recitals. Round off your afternoon in Mayfair with afternoon tea at Claridge’s, just a minute’s stroll away. n

Top: the Gewandhaus Concert Hall in Leipzig Above: the London Eye, located amid the numerous cultural attractions of the Southbank Right: the London Symphony Orchestra playing in their home at the Barbican Centre

Getting to london : London has three international airports and rail connections direct to Paris, Brussels and beyond.

Don’t miss: A trip to the Southbank Centre, the riverside arts and entertainment centre just across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, and close to the Tate Modern gallery and Shakespeare’s Globe.

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Acoustic design

Music to your ears Modern acoustic design is creating concert halls with unprecedented dynamic range and breathing new life into old halls. Tim Glynne-Jones asks what’s brought about this new level of aural clarity Regular readers of this magazine will have seen a number of articles that mention new concert halls. During the research we have noticed that it has become commonplace to mention the acoustic designers behind these projects, not just on the large halls but on the small, lower-budget constructions too. It seems that the field of acoustic design has raised the bar in recent years and the results are evident

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across the board: in high-profile venues that wow audiences with their acoustic brilliance, such as Symphony Hall in Birmingham, right down to the local school hall. According to Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustics at the University of Salford in England, the science of acoustic design hasn’t changed significantly but the tools have. “Since the ’80s the big development has been computers and

Photography: Chris Christodoulou; Courtesy of Artec and Adrian James Acoustics

Acoustic design

the availability of modelling to allow us to have a much better idea of how the concert hall will sound before it’s built. There have been increases in knowledge: we know more about what performers want and we know more about how sound from the side affects how people listen, but that’s probably not as significant as computers, which can run on little desktops and allow design.” In allowing designers and architects greater flexibility and foresight, the introduction of computer modelling has made the whole process quicker and cheaper, and thus brought it within the reach of smaller organisations with smaller budgets. Adrian James, who runs his own acoustic design firm, Adrian James Acoustics, in the UK, reckons jobs that previously required ten man-years of labour now require around three. And he gives a graphic example as to why. “For the refurbishment of the Royal Albert Hall about fifteen years ago, I did the masterplan design and then a firm of Dutch consultants came in and built, I think, a 1:12 scale model of the Albert Hall. It was huge! It’s currently sitting in their backyard in Amsterdam and they use it as a bicycle shed.

Opposite page: Symphony Hall, Birmingham, has a remarkable dynamic range, thanks to Artec’s attention to establishing silence as a blank canvas Top: Royal Albert Hall, London, redesigned to a plan by Adrian James, with the help of a large scale model, some helium and an audience of Barbies Above: Adrian James at work, taking measurements

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It meant they could have all the seats in and they filled them full of Barbie dolls, because they wanted to know the effect of putting the audience in. They had to cut the long hair off the Barbie dolls because not all the audience has long hair. And you then have to start doing all sorts of daft things like introducing helium into the model, because you have to scale everything, not just the physical dimensions but the acoustic characteristics of every material that you put in. Air absorbs sound at a certain frequency and helium has about twelve times the acoustic absorption of air. So it was a horrendously complicated process. “It worked,” James continues, “but we can now do exactly the same thing with computer modelling rather than having to go to all the hassle of building the hall and filling it with helium. It’s made it much more available, and the other brilliant thing is that I could send you WAV files of what it would sound like in any position with any kind of instrument.

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Top: Ed Arenius, Tateo Nakajima and Todd Brooks from New York based Artec Consultants Above: vineyard terracing at Berliner Philharmonie helps to deliver lateral sound throughout the auditorium

But,” he adds, “you still need the same level of expertise to build a computer model.” Much of the acoustician’s work lies in fine details, such as cutting out unwanted background noise. In this respect, New York firm Artec Consultants, whose many notable projects include Harpa hall in Reykjavik and Symphony Hall in Birmingham, has led the way. “Something the average listener or music lover doesn’t always consciously think about is the importance of having silence as a blank canvas for the performers,” says Artec partner Ed Arenius. “That sometimes separates a good hall from a great hall, just the level of background noise, regardless of all the other details that go into the design. “I would say probably over 50 per cent of the work we do is focused on ensuring silence. So you don’t hear any sounds from outside the building or adjacent spaces, but also in a modern concert hall you have many building systems – ventilation, electrical systems, all sorts of new technologies, high-speed hand dryers in the rest rooms – things that make noise that must not be audible at all within the concert hall, so that you get the maximum dynamic range.” Fellow Artec partner Tateo Nakajima expands upon this. “If the place has background noise then you never get those moments when the last note is just fading away into the air and everyone’s holding their breath. If that magical moment is interrupted by fan noise from the outside, the moment is gone.” Artec’s attention to detail is fast becoming the established norm, according to Cox. “I don’t think there’s anything new in the design but maybe we’ve just learnt how to take that attention to detail that’s required and it’s become quite routine. In fact, modern concert halls are so quiet that the audience is louder than the background noise of the hall. The background noise in halls like Birmingham is below the breathing noise of the audience.” Cox echoes Nakajima’s point about extraneous noises. “You can get 99 per cent of the design things right but if the hand dryers leak into the hall it doesn’t matter about the 99 per cent you got right, you got one per cent wrong. The attention to detail in the back of halls is quite staggering. It’s all about the weakest link, and it only takes a bit of carelessness in construction by the builders to ruin it all.” Once silence is established, the next consideration is establishing the ideal relationship between the audience and the performers. Acoustically that means delivering the sound from the stage to every part of the hall at the highest possible quality,

Photography: Reinhard Friedrich; Pierre-Emmanuel Rastoin

Acoustic design

Acoustic design

and here the shape of the hall is key. “Over the 20th century the shape of concert halls became properly understood,” says Cox. “We didn’t really understand, until people started thinking about the fact we have two ears, why classic concert halls like the narrow, tall shoebox shape you get in Boston [Symphony Hall] is good, and it’s all about getting sound from the side. It’s only back in the late ’60s and ’70s that that was proved scientifically and that led to a revolution in design.” That revolution has enabled a major enhancement in acoustic quality in big halls through a layout known as ‘vineyard terracing’, where blocks of audiences are divided up like the parcels of vines within a vineyards, with intermediate walls helping to deliver lateral sound. A notable example is Berliner Philharmonie. The great advantage of this is that halls can be shaped wide and shallow to keep the audience close to the stage, while providing them with the lateral acoustics of a long, narrow hall like Boston. Proximity is key to the performer-audience relationship, as Nakajima explains. “A lot of that relationship, even though you experience it

Top: Salle Pleyel in Paris following Artec’s redesign, which included adjustment of the seating rakes and new side balconies to improve sightlines and enhance the acoustic environment Above: Salle Pleyel before the renovation work was carried out

acoustically, is about visual connection and vice versa. The two are inextricably linked, which is why we view them as a single specialism.” In other words, the closer the audience feel to the performers, the better they perceive the sound to be, and Artec applies this principle by designing halls to give the perception of proximity. In stark Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Acoustic design

contrast to the large, fan-shaped halls that were de rigueur in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, they reduce the footprint of the room, stack the walls with balconies and put seats behind the orchestra, all with the aim of making the audience feel closer to the performers. Nakajima cites the historic Salle Pleyel in Paris, which he worked on along with Arenius and fellow Artec partner Todd Brooks, as a shining example of how they have applied these principles. “The difference in the sense of envelopment, the closeness to the artist and the interaction was so dramatic that that, coupled with the changes in the acoustics, which were significant as well, is truly a transformation that was a very strong example of the difference between doing those things right and not doing them.” Artec’s attention to detail comes right down to the colour, shape and materials of the fixtures and fittings. “The perception of sound is coloured by what’s on the walls, the colours etc. Brass railings give the perception of a bright sound.”

Top: the Capstone Theatre at Liverpool Hope University, which required a bespoke electroacoustic system to be designed by Adrian James Acoustics Above: a fine example of top quality acoustics being achieved on a small budget at Hampton School, London, designed by Adrian James Acoustics

James also acknowledges the relationship between the acoustic and other sensory influences. “We don’t think that you can separate what you hear from what you see and what you feel. If you were to walk into a very large marble building and it sounded dead, you’d be pretty uncomfortable with it. Likewise, a small theatre that sounded like a concert hall would feel wrong.” While all these factors are better understood than they were, say, twenty-five years ago and have contributed to the enhanced acoustics of the world’s concert halls, the scientific expertise applied by acousticians is not to be overlooked. Achieving the remarkable balance of loudness and clarity, as Artec did at Birmingham Symphony Hall, requires complex geometry and clever applications like sound canopies and reverberance chambers. As James points out, “The most challenging projects aren’t the big concert halls with the vast budgets, it’s the funny little jobs that come in on a tight budget and have some fundamental limitations to them.” His biggest challenge of recent years was at the All-Steinway Liverpool Hope University. “We did the Capstone Theatre for them, which is only a little hall, about 250 seats, designed four or five years ago. We were brought in very late and it just physically didn’t work; there wasn’t enough space for us to build something that was intended to have a full-sized orchestra and some very professional players in there. So we had to fiddle it electronically. We had to design an electro-acoustic system, which would make it sound like a natural hall.” The result was remarkable – good enough to convince two esteemed musicians that it was natural. “Joanna McGregor and Vasily Petrenko both came in at various stages and said, ‘Hey, this sounds really good. What’s all this about having an electro-acoustic system? You don’t need it...’ and then we turned it off. So you’ve got two very good performers there who were unable to tell that, in fact, we were cheating.” But electronic enhancement is the last resort. As Nakajima points out, the live environment will never replicate the precise sound quality of the hi-fi at home, but it offers something different in exchange. “What we find with halls is that, once they get to a certain level of quality, we’re no longer talking about quality, we’re talking about personality,” he says. “I think we’re realising that each hall has a contribution to make as an environment that works with the musician to communicate to people.” n Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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While acoustic designers seek optimum sound quality in the auditorium, speaker designers are coming ever closer to replicating the real thing in the home If the Swiss lead the world in quality watchmaking, the Danes can claim to be the nation that’s done more than any other for high end hi-fi. It was a Danish physicist, Hans Christian Ørsted, who, in 1820, discovered the relationship between electricity and magnetic currents, which laid the foundations for sound recording and reproduction. And it was another Dane, Peter L Jensen, who first applied this knowledge to create the moving coil loudspeaker, together with Edwin Pridham, nearly a century later in 1915. In between, Valdemar Poulsen had invented the magnetic wire recorder, the precursor to the tape recorder. Why Denmark should have taken electronic sound reproduction as its specialism is anyone’s guess, though the influence of these pioneers must have been a factor. In their wake have come a number of hi-fi manufac t urers whose names are familiar among the very best in the business: Bang & Olufsen, Lyngdorf, DALI… In the case of the last two, it’s speakers that are the speciality. About six years ago, Steinway & Sons asked Lyngdorf if they could build a speaker that

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reproduced the live sound of a Steinway Model D concert grand piano. Lyngdorf duly obliged and a succession of Steinway Lyngdorf speakers has been made ever since, the latest being the acclaimed Model LS Concert, released last year. These cabinets are 8ft tall and 16in wide, each housing fifteen mid-range drivers and eight tweeters. In October the Steinway Lyngdorf Model LS Concert speakers received a glowing review in Wired magazine under the strapline “When God and Mozart Hang Out, They Listen to These Speakers”. DALI (short for Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries) celebrates its thirtieth birthday this year – three decades dedicated to research and development in the interests of flawless sound reproduction. Early in 2012 the company launched a new flagship range, Epicon, which it claims takes the listener “one step closer to the real thing” – the real thing being live performance. The secret ingredient inside these speakers is what DALI calls its Linear Drive Magnet System, a technical innovation which reduces distortion like never before. The outward appearance is beautifully simple (a feature of Danish design), with cabinets finished in high-gloss wood veneer. Ørsted would have appreciated the understated, natural look of these extraordinary speakers but, even for a physicist as open-minded as him, the clarity of sound would have seemed like witchcraft. n

Acoustic expertise at home Our featured acousticians offer their top tips for enhancing your home entertainment. “Get the room dimensions right – you actually need quite a big room. Make sure that before you put any loudspeakers in, the room doesn’t have any nasty flutter echoes. If you stand in the middle of most living rooms, which have parallel plastered walls, and you clap your hands, you can hear a flutter echo running between the two. Get rid of those, get the acoustic of the room sorted out first and then put your loudspeakers and hi-fi system into it. And from that point just use your ears. You are the ultimate arbiter. Different people have different tastes.” Adrian James, Director, Adrian James Acoustics “Get the speakers in the right place; not one up on the ceiling and one stuck behind a pot plant. It should be an equilateral triangle between you and the speakers. A room creates quite a lot of distortions. Think about a ping-pong ball bouncing round the room between you and the speakers and get rid of those reflections. There are two treatments: you can either absorb it – that’s fluffy stuff – or you can scatter it – that’s bumpy stuff. So a bit of carpet on the floor, a book case on the wall or a curtain.” Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustics, University of Salford

Photography: Ian Rees

Speakers corner

Seduction of the Senses Designed for people with the passion for an impeccable audio experience Award winning DALI EPICON 8

”Danish loudspeaker brand DALI is no stranger to the high-end and this latest addition to the EPICON range is appropriately ‘epic’” ”Its sound is equally impressive, at once bold and intimate, its broad soundstage peppered with musical detail, filling the largest of rooms with ease.” EISA Committee 2012

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timekeeping

Fascinating rhythm Research into human response to rhythm has thrown up some interesting findings that go right to the roots of our dominion over all the other species on the planet. Tim Glynne-Jones learns why happiness is a regular beat… but not too regular

Main pic: the human facility to dance together has helped us to form powerful social groups Above: the metronome may serve a useful purpose for practice but when it comes to performance, we prefer freestyle Opposite: Justin London, whose studies in rhythm and meter have yielded some fascinating facts about the rhythms we like

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Have you ever wondered why you feel agitated when the band plays out of time? Why a solid drummer is more exciting than a loose one? Why you like listening to the tick of your watch? If everything in human development has a purpose, why are we attracted by regularity and unnerved by randomness? Is it a whimsical obsession with order and precision? Or is there something more fundamental going on? Justin London, Professor of Music at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, is a classically trained guitarist who became fascinated by the science of music and has conducted extensive research into rhythm and meter. His book, Hearing in Time, explores the way we perceive rhythm and discovers that there are “speed limits” outside of which we are not receptive to rhythm, no matter how regular it is. “It has to be within a certain range and that range is the range in which you can move,” says London. “If it’s so fast you can’t move with it, or so slow you can’t move with it, it doesn’t matter how regular it is.” The way rhythm moves us, both physically and emotionally, has been found to be a particularly human function and it hints at the reason why we are so drawn to a regular beat.

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“The fascination with rhythm seems to be very much hard-wired into us as a species,” says London, “and it’s something that makes us special and different from most other advanced species. Research has shown that human beings are probably unique among primates, with the exception of one other monkey species, in that we actually can rhythmically synchronize our behaviours. Birds can do this and crickets can do this but amongst higher animals we’re the only ones who can. “The big argument is that it’s a huge social advantage, to create social bonding. Our rhythm capacities gave us a crucial advantage, which was

Photography: Alamy

timekeeping

this ability to rhythmically co-ordinate ourselves with other homo sapiens, and that created very tight social bonding. When you move with somebody and you feel this emotional bonding, you form a better, more cohesive social unit, and that’s terribly important. ‘Because we dance together, we are a group.’ In sport, the whole notion of fandom and groups that sing and chant together is just modern day evidence of the importance of social bonding. “There was a guy named William H McNeill who did a really nice book, Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human History, about why armies parade. His theory is that when you do all

these rhythmic activities together it actually helps you form a cohesive unit – he calls it ‘muscular bonding’ – and it makes sense because military units in all cultures do this thing. Why? Because it helps with the cohesiveness of the unit.” So we are programmed to like regular rhythms because they help us to bond and form powerful social groups that enable us to be the dominant species. In fact, we are so captivated by regularity that we hear it even when it’s not there – like seeing pictures in an ink blot. “If I played you a computer generated random series of ticks densely enough spaced, you would Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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timekeeping

try to find a beat in them, and you probably would. Our brains will resonate rhythmically to just about anything that’s regular enough to get us going.” All of which suggests that our rhythmic nirvana would be robotic precision, but another subtlety that London has been exploring is exactly what we mean by ‘regular’, and the answer is that we actually find beauty in imperfection. “There is a huge line of research which shows that when you expect something to be deadpan regular, if you actually play something that’s deadpan regular we don’t like it, but if it’s slightly off we do like it. It actually makes it easier to follow if it has a little more structure to it, a little bit of rubato. “We find beauty in graceful movement, which often has a rhythmic or temporal component, and it’s not perfect. So we don’t actually expect this flat precision metronome stuff – so much so that people who use sequencers in recording use complex algorithms that actually distort the tempo and make it not mechanically regular.” And the reason, says London, that we prefer slight irregularity is that we are slightly irregular ourselves. “You can’t quite control your arms and legs with metronomic precision when you walk or when you drum; your limbs are always slightly asymmetrical. In the same way that they’ve done studies in beauty and vision, they’ve taken faces and cut them in half and done the perfect mirror reflection, and these are judged not as beautiful as the actual face, which is slightly asymmetrical.” Interestingly, this point is echoed by Daniel Zimmerman, Executive Director of Sales and Marketing for Swiss watchmaker H Moser & Cie. Though we talk about Swiss precision, it is, says

Top left: beauty in the graceful movement of ballerinas Top right: the coordinated chants of football crowds are a function that creates strong social bonds Below: Daniel Zimmerman of H Moser says the cachet of Swiss watches is due to the emotion they induce, not precision Bottom: H Moser’s Perpetual 1 – it’s what makes a Swiss watch tick, rather than how precisely it does so, that captivates admirers

Zimmerman, the imprecision that is the key to the revival of Swiss watchmaking. “The Swiss watch industry was dead in the early ’70s when the quartz watch came out. Today you can buy a quartz watch, which is the most accurate thing you can get, at any gas station for £10, yet the Swiss watch industry has made a fantastic revival in the last twenty-five years with exactly the opposite – bringing back the mechanical watch, which will never be accurate, never can be accurate and costs a hell of a lot more than any quartz battery watch.” The human trait that connects London’s findings with Zimmerman’s is emotion. “That’s the nice thing in our business, like many others too: it’s emotions,” says Zimmerman. “You see something and it costs a fortune but you like it and you want to have it. If you look at a mechanical watch like ours at the high end, you can see how things move, and it’s all very interesting, it’s lively. A quartz watch as such is dead. So there’s an aesthetic thing and there’s also, much more importantly I think, history: there’s a lot of respect in any culture for things that were done historically.” So the tic-toc of the watch satisfies our love of rhythm and movement because it speaks of the human touch, not of precision. And the drummer sounds more exciting than the drum machine because he satisfies our expectations of asymmetry. This ability to satisfy one another’s imperfect rhythmic expectations has made mankind the epitome of social bonding, which in turn has made us the dominant species. Hence our love of rhythm. When we move together, we survive together. Remember that next time someone tells you music isn’t important. n Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Music industry investment:

Very sharp or a bit flat?

Now that it’s had time to adjust to the digital revolution, can the record business prove an attractive financial investment again? Chris Maillard checks the pulse of an industry in recovery

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Photography: Getty Images; Corbis

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Revolutions and music have always gone together – from the French Revolution’s battle hymns chanted over the backbeat of the guillotine to the soaring People’s Choirs of communism, and from Wagner’s grand teutonic works on behalf of Germany’s ruling elite to Woody Guthrie’s rousing anthems of 1930s Dust Bowl Depression. Pop music picked up the revolutionary banner with great fervour too, from Bob Dylan to the Beatles, The Clash to Rage Against the Machine, all fomenting revolt. Or at least singing about it. But now, for the music industry, the revolution is much, much closer to home. While its stars were writing songs about overthrowing the balance of power, their industry has been glumly watching it happen to them. If you’re a would-be investor, it all looks a bit dangerous. However, as John F Kennedy once said, “In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognise the opportunity.” Music can still be an interesting, exciting area to be involved in. We’ve found some experts who have very interesting ideas about what’s going to be happening in the musical universe in the future, and what that means for investment. But first a bit of background (on) music. Recorded music sales have been dropping for a long time. The Beatles had to sell more than 750,000 copies of From Me To You to reach number one in the UK singles charts in 1963, but by 2007 you could have topped the charts by selling just 20,000. More recently they’ve plummeted faster: in the UK alone, CD album sales almost halved from 2007 to 2011. The CD singles market has crashed from 6.6 million to just over 1 million in the same period. Digital sales have increased, but by nowhere near the same amount, and their profit margin is far smaller. All of which means that the record industry is struggling badly. How did it end up in this state? One clue is in the phrase ‘record industry’. Because, actually, nobody really owns music. A song comes out of an artist’s mouth or instrument and straight into the ears of their audience. It’s a transient moment made merely of talent, skill and vibrations in the air. But the record industry’s trick has always been trapping that moment, duplicating it and selling it to us. From sheet music sellers through pianola rolls, wax cylinders, shellac 78s, vinyl albums and CDs to digital downloads, they’ve always found a way to bottle the magic of music, then sell us the bottle. That’s the commodity; they control access to music. Or they did until the Internet arrived and record companies’ self-appointed role as keepers of music became widely irrelevant as digital music

Opposite: the revolution in the record industry has seen some shock casualties among labels and high street retailers, including Beatles label EMI Above: U2 in concert. Demand for live performances has risen as record sales have declined

flowed unstoppably all over the globe via music sharing sites. The record industry’s reaction has been slow and ugly – usually consisting of heavyhanded lawsuits with brutal penalties for music fans caught infringing piracy laws. As has been noted many times, any industry whose business model consists of suing its customers is in deep trouble. But let’s not write off music as a whole. As artists have been earning less from record sales, live performances have boomed. Concert tickets have become a hot item, from blockbuster orchestral bills with star conductors to the very grandest of opera extravaganzas or legendary rock bands’ lucrative comeback tours. The live sector, however, is not totally reliable as an investment area; quite a number of festival organisers have recently run into financial trouble as a result of poor weather and the global recession. A smarter investment strategy might be to look at the way music has moved online – and treat it as an opportunity rather than a problem. Spotify is one good example: this internet service acts more like a smart, personalised radio station than a traditional record store. It has a clever business model, including third-party add-ons to expand its functionality, and is expanding worldwide at an astonishing rate. Rivals, like Pandora, Deezer, Pure Music and others, are also hot on its heels; this is a thriving area for technology focused venture capitalists to explore. Then there is the growth of digital music buying services, offering either a virtually limitless catalogue of CDs at the touch of a button, or instant digital downloads to order. While Apple’s iTunes and Amazon are big players here, there are many more examples that service specific niches or offer a Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Top: Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, founders of Spotify Above: Torleif Ahlsand of tech investment fund Northzone Below: Pandora’s Joseph Kennedy (centre) and Tim Westergren (right) watch the share price soar

Photography: Getty Images

service (like ultra-high-quality downloads for hi-fi enthusiasts, for instance) that the mainstream outfits can’t or won’t do. Torleif Ahlsand is a General Partner at Northzone – a leading technology investment fund with over eighty companies in its portfolio, including innovative music firms such as Spotify, X5 Music and Soundrop. He is confident that there is a financial future for the music industry after its tough recent years. “The death of the music industry is highly exaggerated. People listen to more music than ever before, it is just the way people enjoy and consume music that is changing,” he says. “People will continue to be willing to pay for music and services around the listening experience, it is just that it will take different forms than today. Few people will see the value of having their own physical albums on the shelves or digital downloads on their computer; streaming will be the preferred way to consume music in most markets and across demographics. Mobile consumption will also increase in importance. “I believe the social aspect of music will be increasingly important. We will see new ways of how people interact, engage and influence the music experience, both between consumers and directly between consumers and artists. The labels, as a consequence, need to find new ways to defend their role in the value chain.” So where are the best returns likely to be made? “If I knew the exact answer to this, I would be a very rich man,” Ahlsand laughs. “The transition from physical recordings via downloads to streaming services has just started. This development is likely to accelerate and how the final value chain pans out remains to be seen. I believe there will

be many ways to monetize going forward, and smart entrepreneurs will find ways to charge consumers, artists and labels for value added products and services. “My own partnership, Northzone, has made several investments in the digital music space and we are the lead investor in Spotify, X5 Music and Soundrop. These are all exciting businesses with exceptional entrepreneurs that we believe will take advantage of the new paradigm in the music industry. These three companies come from different angles and have both a very different offering as well as business model. What they have in common is a fresh look at the industry, a new and innovative way to serve both artists and consumers and a business model that makes sense. “I would highlight Spotify as the most significant innovation in the music industry in the last few years. Other companies that I like include Shazam, Songkick, Pandora, X5 Music and Soundrop.” While these companies appear to have found a winning formula for pop music fans, classical music requires a formula of its own. That’s the view of Eric Feidner, President of online classical music specialist ArkivMusic, which was acquired by Steinway & Sons in 2008. “ArkivMusic was built to deliver a specialised experience for the classical music lover,” Feidner explains. “Focusing in on the niche is the key. It is a very unique genre of music and you really have to design the interface differently than for other genres. For instance, in classical music we have database fields like ‘conductor’ and ‘composer’ and most albums don’t have names per se, so it’s a different set-up than for pop music. For us,

Investments

Left: names like X5, Shazam and Songkick, along with Spotify and Pandora, look set to replace the old guard like EMI and HMV as the household names in music sales

Photography: Corbis

Bottom: experts predict that digital streaming will replace traditional ‘ownership’ as the most popular way to consume recorded music

“There are innovations in every direction with music these days. Digital delivery has been the most obvious game-changer in all its many permutations, with more to come. At the same time, even more realistic sound quality with HD and Blu-ray are creating an even more enhanced listening experience for recorded music. In ten years’ time I think we will be looking at digital delivery as the main way recorded music is consumed. “The current pace of technology innovation and business model evolution, however, makes it very difficult to predict precisely what the business will look like, though certainly a subscription model appears to be likely. We are certainly working overtime at ArkivMusic to try to anticipate and build the model for that future!” Two experts’ views, but with common themes: change and opportunity. If you can keep up with the pace of innovation, there is a great deal of potential in the world of music. After all, as they both mentioned, there’s one constant: however it’s delivered, people still love music. n

the thinking has always been to deliver on the experience that our customers are looking for and that most other companies are not willing to pursue. Also, ArkivMusic is designed to deliver the music regardless of the delivery format. “So, whether the CD format experiences a revival (we do a considerable business manufacturing CDs on demand, for example) or the whole thing moves into ‘the cloud’, our focus on the niche is the key to the value we provide to consumers.” So is there a financial future for the classical music industry? “There is,” he affirms confidently. “The last ten years for the music business have seen a huge and dramatic decline in sales overall. With the disappearance of traditional speciality music stores and the emergence of new ways to purchase and listen to music, we have been in a constantly changing marketplace. The rapid change has completely disrupted the business environment, but that does not mean the demand for music has disappeared. It is really more about figuring out the new model going forward, and while that is a challenge, all the change and uncertainty presents an opportunity for companies that can come up with solutions that make sense. Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Once upon a time, not so long ago, environment friendly design meant no more chopping down trees. Today, wood is the epitome of ‘green’ construction – which is good news for designers because, as Linda Parker demonstrates, the effects can be stunning

Photography: LOCOG/David Poultney

Design

Design

The London 2012 Olympic Games were impressive for many reasons, not least the spectacular venues that graced the Olympic Park. The Stadium, the Aquatic Centre, the Copper Box – each was a remarkable feat of style and efficiency working in tandem; but everyone who visited the park last summer was ultimately drawn to one venue in particular: the Velodrome. Designed by Hopkins Architects, the Velodrome carried the flag for London 2012 in its quest to be the “greenest Games ever”. The intention was for it to be straightforward and simple to construct, to include natural cooling mechanisms, water harvesting functions, daylighting and energy saving features. Rows of skylights across the white roof allowed maximum daylight to be admitted, thus reducing the need for artificial lighting. The roof itself was designed to deflect heat and collect rainwater, consequently reducing air conditioning and cooling requirements. But the thing that gave the Velodrome its captivating beauty was its sweeping, cedar-clad exterior, the colour and shape of which gave the structure a warm, organic yet undeniably ‘space age’ attraction: nature and high technology at one. Environmental issues have become a major driver in building design and progressive architects and designers have taken up the challenge and used it to develop exciting new building methods that, like the Velodrome, succeed in combining energy efficiency and beauty. And a key element in their success is wood. Wood is very much back in vogue and you can rest assured that you are getting it from a sustainable source by ensuring your supplier is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited. The FSC is an international, non-governmental organisation, which exists to promote and monitor responsible management of forests. You don’t have to be constructing a brand new, state-of-the-art house to benefit. Take a look at some of the innovative effects being achieved particularly in kitchens and bathrooms, where wood provides a range of finishes and textures as well as a hard-wearing, functional surface. German company Bette has developed a technology that enables it to offer real wood veneers for use in the bathroom where moisture would previously have made this impossible. The veneer is wrapped around the base of the bath with no joins and a water-tight seal to ensure it will withstand the moist bathroom setting for many years, and the visual effect is stunning. Timber kitchens are often thought of as being rather old-fashioned. Yes, of course you can have

Opposite: close-up of the cedarclad Velodrome in London’s Olympic Park From top: BetteOne Highline bath with wood veneer base; contemporary kitchen with book matched wood veneer from DesignSpaceLondon; Tangens double basins from Alape

a traditional ‘country style’ kitchen in rustic oak or stained pine, but now you’ll find a range of clean-cut, modern designs on offer too. According to London kitchen sales specialist Laurence Pidgeon, “Timber is at the forefront of kitchen design, with on-trend finishes focusing on naturally grained wood. There are many different timbers, such as acacia and walnut, which offer highly decorative grain patterns. Oak and walnut are also favourites for getting the ‘rustic but modern’ look, where the texture is highlighted and the wood looks as if it has been sawn or rough cut, but it is actually beautifully smooth to the touch. We can also bring the grain patterns alive with coloured washes in a cool, modern palette of grey, black or white. Smoking or ‘fuming’ timber is another way to enhance the natural characteristics of beautiful wood.” Roundhouse Design is one of the foremost bespoke kitchen companies that use unusual timbers in creative and innovative ways. Director Jamie Telford says, “Timber finishes add warmth Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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MACCAFERRI FLOOD CONTROL SYSTEMS ARE HELPING TO PRESERVE CANALETTO’S VENICE. Credit Suisse helped from a financial perspective. credit-suisse.com/clients

Design

and character to offset more neutral materials and the functional coolness of appliances. We like to use timber finishes on the exterior of the cabinetry too, even if it is a single cupboard or shelf, which will give the ‘wow factor’ to a kitchen. There are so many wonderful veneers to choose from and with the possibilities of book matching we are able to create the most beautiful patterns.” Book matching is the placement of two pieces of wood or veneer side by side so that the grain patterns mirror one another. It’s a beautiful effect that really highlights the natural intricacy of wood and it is popular amongst quality interior design companies. DesignSpaceLondon is one such, using fine veneers and timbers to produce stunning contemporary kitchens. Keith Atkins, Director of Design, says, “The demands of modern living have

Above: wood working beautifully in contrast with other finishes such as ceramic, chrome, glass and white in kitchens by (clockwise from top left) Mowlem & Co; Simon Taylor; the Wood Works; and Modulnova

seen the introduction of many other materials and production methods, but in spite of this, timber has not lost its appeal as a natural and individual material that brings natural warmth and character.” Any interior scheme has to be a balance of influences, though, and he goes on to say, “Mixing timber with contemporary materials is a good way to balance the trends towards modern, hard-edged design. We use mixtures of subtly stained veneers alongside glossy or satin-lacquered cabinet fronts, and will use bold figured veneers to make the timber element more dominant. Book matching is a method that indicates a clear statement of luxury.” One company that has become very well known for its modern use of veneers is Metris Kitchens. It has developed hi-tech production methods that allow sweeping curves and striking book Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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matching techniques. Graeme Smith, Conceptual Designer at Metris, says, “The latest innovations in manufacturing technology have opened up immense opportunities to work creatively with wood. We use zebrano veneers and the latest processes create a wide range of colours and grains, from neutral and subtle to dramatic and distinctive.” Metris’ production methods press the veneers to form distinctive textures. “Texture is a key trend,” Smith says. “It’s appealing to the touch and enriches subtle colour schemes and adds depth and definition to the furniture. Zebrano veneers inject warmth and can be used lavishly to make a statement focal point across a full island unit.” As well as streamlined contemporary uses of wood inside and out, we are also seeing a resurgence of oak and timber framed buildings – not just for whole houses, but for additional rooms such as garden rooms, pool rooms, porches, garages and garden offices. Many of these are becoming popular because of their eco-qualities, plus, of course, adding extra living space needs to be as cost-effective as possible. Edward Hamilton, Sales and Marketing Director of Oakmasters, which designs and builds oak-framed buildings, extols the virtues of wood as a timeless building material. “Oak work effectively enhances the ambience of any project, adding a sense of identity and warmth as well as adding value to a property. It creates wonderful, long-lasting features that enhance both traditional and contemporary properties alike, with the benefits of durability, practicality and adaptability.” A quick glance at some of the contemporary outbuildings now being made in wood bears out his argument that you can achieve just about any effect you want with wood, from the traditional and rustic to the ultra-modern. Its ability to complement other materials, such as brick, stone and glass, coupled with its strength, warmth and ageing properties, makes wood in many ways the ultimate construction material. But wood can also enhance your home through its use in furniture. As every Steinway owner knows, individual pieces in beautiful wood finishes are a lovely way of showcasing timber in the home. Greg Sims, Engineering Manager at Steinway & Sons, New York, is responsible for the 500 tons of wood that the factory uses every year. Most of this is the slow-growing Sitka spruce, renowned for its strength-to-weight ratio, which is used for the soundboards, key beds and a few smaller components. But the exterior beauty is provided by hard woods, mostly maple and birch, which are

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Top: exposed oak beams in a new building by Oakmasters Above: iconic wooden dining chair by Charles Eames Right: bi-fold louvred blinds in walnut from Santa Fe Bottom right: exposed timber staircase from Bisca

Design

used for the legs, and a range of veneers sourced from around the world. “East Indian rosewood and Macassar ebony are probably the most exotic,” says Sims. “I really like the Macassar Ebony; to me it’s just beautiful.” Most interior designers will have a close working relationship with at least one bespoke furniture maker and will often design individual items to work within a scheme. Look out for Ercol. Their furniture is elegant and instantly recognisable, and as such has been a good investment for many, many years. It’s also highly collectable and has ‘green’ credentials. The range is made using beech, ash, oak, elm and walnut, all sourced from North

Clockwise from top left: zebrano veneers by Metris Kitchens; wood effect wallpaper by Digitex; close-up of a Steinway piano in Macassar Ebony; wood clad pool room from Green Retreats

America and Europe, rather than using some of the more exotic and potentially endangered timbers. For a truly distinctive focal feature, consider an exposed timber staircase. Richard McLane, Design Director of Bisca, says, “Walnut is without doubt ‘on trend’ at the moment. Walnut treads look fabulous in both traditional and contemporary settings. We’re also being asked for elm staircases, often for barn conversions and to blend in with vintage elm beams. “As with all organic materials,” he adds, “timber needs to be selected with care and treated with respect. Looked after well it will age well and be appreciated for generations to come.” n Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Food and drink

A question of taste The art of tasting has two purposes: to ensure quality and to convey the characteristics of whatever you’re tasting to consumers. But, says Luca Caballero, a little practice can go a long way to enhancing your personal enjoyment too On a slow news day in November, a story hit the headlines about British baby food tester Beth Anderson, who was having her tongue insured to the tune of £1million. This wasn’t a first. There was coffee taster Gennaro Pelliccia, in 2009, who had his tongue insured for £10million, and no doubt there are other, more publicity shy tasters and testers out there who have covered their assets in this way. Aside from the somewhat surprising implication that tasting coffee is ten times as important as testing baby food, these examples imply something even more fundamental: that some people are born better at tasting than others. The appreciation of food and drink, just as with music and art, can be a source of crippling self-doubt. The well-worn mantra may be “If you like it, that’s all that matters,” but nobody really believes that, do they? Fail to see the merits in Mahler or Monet and you can feel very small, and the same applies if you turn your nose up at a Margaux or a Mouton Rothschild. Clearly there is an art to tasting but the big question is, is it an art that can be learned, or are we condemned to live in the shadows of those to whom it was gifted at birth? Anderson was born with twice as many taste buds as the average human, which means her tongue is twice as sensitive. This makes her ideal for testing baby food because our tongues are also twice as sensitive in infancy as they are in adulthood. Therefore, Anderson, at 24, has the sensitivity of a 10-month-old. Her job is to ensure that her employer’s products are not overpowering for their target market. Now you’re not so envious. And further good news comes from Anne McHale, Wine Education Specialist with wine merchant Berry Bros. & Rudd, who runs courses to help people appreciate wine in all its wonderful array. “Some people pick it up more quickly and whether that’s genetic or it’s down to influences in childhood, it’s hard to say. However, I do think everybody can get to a good level with practice, just like with music.” This view is supported by Pierrette Trichet, Cellar Master at French cognac house Rémy Martin. “I think it’s a little bit of both [innate and learned]. I may have a tendency to appreciate some aromas, but it’s also a lot of work and training. Every day I taste eaux-de-vie. I try to memorise aromas, to train myself by describing everything I can recognise.” But while the tasting vocabulary can be hard to grasp at times – “Are you getting freshly mown grass or hay?” – there is a validity to it that makes it worth learning, because behind the sometimes baffling descriptions there is something very scientific going on. There are compounds that form during fermentation and

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Food and drink

maturation of wine that are the same compounds as certain aromas that can be identified. In other words, when you take a good sniff and think you can smell hay, you really are smelling hay! So you want to practise the art of tasting? First you have to understand how the whole mechanism works and the conditions that can affect it. “Eighty per cent of it is smell,” says McHale. “Over Christmas I suffered from a temporary loss of sense of smell with a very bad cold, and that was really eye-opening for me because I couldn’t taste wine at all. “The best conditions for tasting analytically are bright, natural light, to be able to see it better, to look at the colours, and the best time to taste wine is in the morning when your palate’s fresh. Every time I took my wine exams I had to brush my teeth before breakfast, which I didn’t like doing, but it was the only option because if you try and taste with mint in your mouth, you don’t have a chance.” Drinking coffee or smoking will have a similarly distracting effect. “I also try not to eat too spicy food, even though I like it very much!” adds Trichet.

Top: Rémy Martin Cellar Master Pierrette Trichet tasting an eaude-vie that’s ageing in the cellars Above: Anne McHale in the cellars at Berry Bros. & Rudd, where she teaches the appreciation of wine

Location will also influence your perception of anything you taste. “There’s so much emotion connected with it, you can’t separate the sensory element from the whole experience,” says McHale. “That’s why people think a wine’s amazing when they’re on holiday, sitting by the sea, under blue skies, and then they come back home and they’re like, ‘Uh, it’s insipid!’” And then there’s the alcohol. “Practising means spitting the wine out because otherwise your brain gets addled,” says McHale, but she adds, “If you practise every weekend then you will get very good very quickly. Sit down with a range of smells, like smelling tobacco, wood, grapefruit, strawberry, and then go back and forward between them and the wine. You will start to get better at it.” During the distilling season, Trichet and her team will taste thousands of eaux-de-vie, all vying for inclusion in the different Rémy Martin cognacs. “I always start with a properly prepared glass, rinsed out with some eau-de-vie to erase all odours, cleaning products etc. I will taste an eau-de-vie nouvelle with two glasses. On the nose, I taste it Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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neat to feel and smell the first aromas. I also taste it in another glass, with some water added, so it can reveal some more aromas. “For an aged eau-de-vie I like to let the liquid rest for fifteen minutes in the glass. I never stir it up, in order to protect the balance of aromas. Then I can start the tasting, first with the nose to discover the first aromas and then I take a sip to refine and deepen my aroma description.” Even after thirty-six years with the House of Rémy Martin, Trichet finds that her abilities are still evolving. “Some aromas that I would have recognised in a moment in the past are now very hard for me to describe and conversely I can now discover scents and components that I was unable to in the past.” McHale too is proof that tasting is a talent that can be acquired. She only started learning at the age of 23 and now, aged 32, she is on the brink of earning the rare and coveted Master of Wine qualification. Does she have a favourite taste? “A really good white Burgundy – just amazing, so many layers. There are lots of wines that I adore but if you gave me an unlimited budget it would be some kind of really complex wine that you could keep going back to and finding new things in it.” And Trichet? “If I had to choose one it would be a sweet flavour, no hesitation. I really like vanilla; I also have an inclination for fruity notes like plum jam. I love it when, from the glass, you can imagine and almost feel a baked brioche or an apple tart out of the oven.” If that sounds like your idea of heaven, the message is clear. Stop counting your tastebuds and feeling insecure and set aside the weekend for a bit of serious practice. n Below: the chai at Rémy Martin, housing the vats

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Louis XIII goes large The taster’s art is the inspiration behind this gargantuan treasure from Rémy Martin: a jeroboam of its highly exclusive Louis XIII cognac “Louis XIII is a dense celebration of floral note and candied fruit with a hint of spices emerging first. The second sip sees notes of jasmine twirled with a nuance of passion fruit, themselves flirting with ginger and nutmeg.” So says Pierrette Trichet, Cellar Master at the House of Rémy Martin. She goes on. “Touches of rose and iris are dancing with elements of fig and prune, in turn being sustained by layers of sandalwood and honey.” Trichet has honed her tasting skills in order to carry out two essential missions: “First of all, the selection of the eaux-de-vie proposed to us by our winemaking and growerdistiller partners. This is what we call the ‘agrément’ or approval process. Thousands of samples are submitted to us during each distilling season and we make a painstaking selection based on taste and quality criteria. This task is very challenging as I am responsible for every eau-de-vie entering the House of Rémy Martin. I have to select eaux-de-vie that may be bottled in more than fifty years. “I also taste very regularly the eauxde-vie that are ageing in our cellars, in order to check their development. And I taste the blends that I make. I select from the great diversity of our eaux-de-vie those that are ready

to enter into the composition of the different Rémy Martin cognacs and I make the right blends necessary for reproducing the exact taste of each one of them, year after year. “When you taste Louis XIII, you have to keep in mind that four generations of Cellar Masters have succeeded each other to produce these intense aromas that linger for more than an hour on the palate.” The latest incarnation of Louis XIII pays homage to the taster’s art. Le Jeroboam presents the cognac in the familiar-shaped decanter, based on a metal gourd from 1569, which was discovered in a Charente field by a peasant in 1850 and purchased by Paul-Émile Rémy Martin, who used the shape for the launch of Louis XIII in 1874. However, Le Jeroboam is four times the usual size. It is presented in a wooden box, reflecting the Limousin oak casks of Trichet’s cellars, and the cognac is drawn out with a special pipette, representing the pipette she uses to sample from the casks, and delivered into one of four special crystal glasses that come with each individually numbered decanter. The idea is that drinking Louis XIII from Le Jeroboam becomes a ritual akin to the tasting ritual of the Cellar Master. Those many layers of complexity that Trichet describes will be familiar to Louis XIII connoisseurs but the size of the decanter will come as exciting news. Le Jeroboam will only be released in very limited quantities each year, with a recommended retail price of €16,000. n

Four generations of Cellar Masters have crafted twelve hundred eaux-de-vie to establish Louis XIII as the most prestigious spirit on Earth. A closely guarded secret since 1874.

ONE CENTURY IN A BOTTLE

www.louis-xiii.com

Jewellery

Big is beautiful From angular necklaces to Victorian and art deco designs, there’s plenty of variety when it comes to selecting your jewellery for 2013, but the big, bold tribal look is set to triumph Clockwise from right: silver and grey layered necklace and earrings by Gurhan Orhan; Neil Lane diamond ring; David Yurman cable coil cuff and pendant in 18k gold with diamonds; Gurhan Orhan ring, necklace, bracelet and earrings; David Yurman crossover cuff and ring in 14k gold and sterling silver

Photography: Gurhan; David Yurman; Neil Lane

Emerald may have been declared ‘the colour of 2013’, but a spectrum of colours is the order of the day, as jewellery seeks to make a statement this year. The spring-summer showings saw a variety of styles, from Victorian and art deco throwbacks to spiky, angular necklaces and bracelets, but the most eye-catching trend was towards chunky, ethnic inspired pieces from Africa and the East. The likes of Gurhan Orhan, David Yurman and Mads Kornerup are bringing their influence to bear, with big stones, wide bracelets, collar necklaces and symbolic pendants featuring strongly. Symbolism and spirituality are popular as customers seek jewellery with a meaning, and with 2013 being the Chinese year of the snake, look out for bejewelled serpents slithering around wrists and fingers.

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Himalayan spirits Shamballa Jewels brings spiritual symbolism to high-end jewellery. The spring-summer collection is a multi-coloured homage to Buddhist tradition

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Danish jewellery maker Mads Kornerup was one of the instigators of the trend towards colourful, symbolic jewellery when he created the Shamballa bracelet in 2001. Inspired by Buddhist prayer beads, it featured gold beads strung together by the ancient macramé technique of braiding. The name Shamballa was taken from a mythical Himalayan kingdom and in 2004 it became the name of the company Kornerup established with his brother Mikkel, Shamballa Jewels. Mads had begun his jewellery adventure ten years earlier, with a shop on Rue de Sevigne in Paris, selling Indian and Tibetan jewellery. Two years later he moved the shop to New York’s Soho district and started designing his own pieces, still inspired by Buddhist spiritual philosophy. The idea behind the Shamballa bracelet was that you could build your own design, choosing the jewels to reflect who you are and thereby creating a piece that was unique to you. The concept caught the public imagination and the clever mix of hippie self-expression with high-end jewellery went down particularly well among the rich and famous. Shamballa bracelets have been seen adorning the wrists of high-profile women and men alike, including Béyoncé, Jay-Z, Michael Jordan, Helena Christensen, Boris Becker, Demi Moore and Daniel Day-Lewis, as well as members of the Danish and Norwegian royal families. They have also won the admiration of designers Karl Lagerfeld, Diane von Furstenberg and Valentino. For spring-summer 2013, Shamballa Jewels has created a range of designs that capture the

Opposite: bracelets, drop earrings and white diamond choker feature in the new collection from Shamballa Jewels Right and below: Shamballa Jewels’ new flagship store in Copenhagen exudes the zen calm that inspires Mads Kornerup’s creations

vibrant colour and energy of Buddhist prayer flags. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, tsavorites, turquoises and diamonds represent the five basic elements: red for fire, blue for sky, green for air, yellow for earth and white for water. The new collection features lock bracelets made of rubies, sapphires, moonstones and turquoises with diamonds set on gold. The stones are cut in a pioneering square shape, which lends visual texture by allowing us to see the structure of the rocks. Each 10mm square lock plate is of five carats or more, takes over ten hours to make and passes through the hands of seven master craftsmen, who specialise in the seven different steps needed to turn raw gems into square plates. Further additions include luminous beads of corals and sapphires that offer a new interpretation of the classic Shamballa bracelet, as well as hoop and drop earrings in 18K gold, featuring pavés of white diamonds, collectors’ piece diamond pavé chokers with 3,728 diamonds set by hand, and necklaces of rubies and corals, which can be customised bead for bead with your choice of gemstones. The launch of the spring-summer collection was quickly followed by the opening of Shamballa Jewels’ first flagship store, in the Kornerups’ native city of Copenhagen. n For more information and other outlets, visit www.shamballajewels.com Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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Go green From the Middle East to South America, emeralds have held mankind spellbound for at least four thousand years. Cleopatra adored them, Cortés tore his hair out looking for them and today they are highly prized for their scarcity (they are twenty times rarer than diamonds) and their soothing green hue, with values sometimes exceeding $10,000 per carat. Emerald is the birthstone for the month of May and it is said to represent rejuvenation and eternal youth. It is a form of beryl, coloured green by the presence of chromium and/or vanadium, and is 75-80 per cent as hard as diamond, on a par with toughened steel. Throughout history it has been credited with mystical and healing properties, but it is as a pure adornment that emerald is making the headlines again this year. Cortés eventually discovered those Aztec emerald mines and Colombia has been the main source of these gemstones ever since. Zambia, the second biggest producer, is a source of very high-grade emeralds, the quality being determined by the gemologist’s ‘four Cs’: colour, clarity, cut and carat. In terms of colour, the purer and darker the green the better. Tints of blue or yellow will devalue the stone and the most precious examples are coloured towards the darker end of the green spectrum with a strong colour saturation, ie brilliant rather than dull. Emeralds are prone to flaws known as inclusions and if these inclusions are near the surface they can make the stone vulnerable to breaking. Inclusions are easier to spot in large stones, and large stones are harder to find, so a large stone with no inclusions is particularly valuable. You will find emeralds cut in all sorts of shapes – round, oval, pear, teardrop and cabochon all being commonplace

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– but the most common cut is the rectangular shape, known as an ‘emerald’ cut for that very reason. This cut maintains the brilliance of the gem and enables the cutter to get maximum value out of the rough stone. Look deep into an emerald and it becomes easier to see why these stones have enchanted kings, queens and emperors since the dawn of civilisation. That rich green hue is quite mesmerising, coupled with which their scarcity makes them something of an enigma. Famous emeralds are relatively few, the prime examples being but three: the Mogul Emerald, the Duke of Devonshire Emerald and the Patricia Emerald. The Mogul Emerald is a rectangular tablet inscribed with prayers and floral engravings, which sold at Christie’s New York for $2m. At over 200 carats, it is reckoned to be one of the largest emeralds in the world. The Duke of Devonshire Emerald is an uncut hexagonal crystal, a gift from Emperor Dom Pedro I of Brazil to the sixth Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish. It weighs a mighty 1,383.93 carats. The Patricia Emerald was named after Patricia Klein, daughter of Fritz Klein, who discovered the stone in Colombia in 1920. It is a 632 carat uncut stone, which is unusual for having twelve sides rather than the usual six, and it currently resides in the care of the American Museum of Natural History. Smaller examples have graced the girdle of Alexander the Great, adorned the fingers of Henry II, Charlemagne and Queen Elizabeth II, enhanced the performances of Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor and cemented the relationship between Jacqueline Bouvier and John F Kennedy. This year, it’s your turn. n

Photography: Gurhan

Emerald has been declared the colour of 2013, so expect to see more of these green gems adorning the fingers, wrists and necks of the glitterati. And if one happens to come your way, grab it!

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I looked over Jordan

Right: carved out of red sandstone and preserved by the proximity of the cliff walls around it, Petra’s ‘Treasury’ is a man-made wonder as iconic today as the pyramids

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Photo credit:

The mysterious city of Petra has enchanted travellers for centuries since it was ‘rediscovered’ in 1812. Today, the city carved from stone is just one of many attractions to be found in Jordan, a country fast becoming the luxury travel destination in the Middle East, writes Tim McCann

Photo credit:

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Above: detail of the Treasury Right: local transport on Petra’s cobbled and colonnaded streets Below: a portrait of Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who passed himself off as a Muslim scholar for two years before being let in on the secret location of Petra

were destroyed. For centuries this diamond in the rough stood deserted, known only to local nomads. The breathtaking architecture is now familiar throughout the world, as recognisable and historically important as the Pyramids, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China, the Acropolis and the Coliseum. Each of its buildings is carved out of the steep cliffsides of Mount Hor, which loom over a network of narrow streets and alleyways. Entrance to the city is via

Photography: (Opening page) Corbis; © Visit Jordan

“A rose-red city half as old as time” – the famous line from the poem entitled Petra by John William Burgon encapsulates the magic and history of one of the world’s most important cultural sites. Last year saw the 200th anniversary of the rediscovery of this ‘lost city’ in south-west Jordan. It had lain hidden from the outside world for centuries until Swiss traveler and orientalist Johann Ludwig Burckhardt was led to the ruins in 1812 by his Bedouin guide, while on one of his many trips in the region. What Burckhardt saw was a sight that has amazed visitors ever since and today ranks high on the list of ‘places to see before you die’. In 1985 it was designated a World Heritage Site. Petra was built over 2,500 years ago by the Nabatean people, an ancient Arab tribe, and was an important city along the many trading routes that criss-crossed the Arabian Peninsula, connecting Europe, Africa and Asia. During the rule of the Roman Empire, its importance as an economic oasis in the desert diminished as sea-based routes took precedence. The sandstone city was also hit by an earthquake in 363AD and many of its buildings

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the famous Siq, a 1km long narrow gorge flanked by high sandstone cliffs. At the far end, enthralled visitors see their first glimpse of the Al-Khazneh – the Treasury and tomb of a Nabatean king from the 1st century AD – which made a star appearance in the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. When planning a visit to Petra, be aware that midsummer temperatures will exceed 30˚C. Spring and autumn are, therefore, popular months for

Top left: inside one of Petra’s tombs, the rock casts a rosy light Top right: a white mosque marks the site of Aaron’s Tomb, where the brother of Moses is believed to have been buried Above: visitors on horseback ride somewhat gingerly past one of Petra’s more weathered ruins

exploring the ancient city, when temperatures rarely exceed 25˚C. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to arrive early to avoid the crowds. A dawn visit will allow you to see the sunrise and really take in the heady atmosphere of the city in all its rose-red glory. Alternatively, mid to late afternoon sees the temperature and glare of the midday sun recede, and as the light begins to fade you have the opportunity to witness the wonderful deep red glow in the Steinway & Sons | ISSUE one 2013

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rocks and stonework. Today, Petra is resplendent once more and is the jewel in the crown of Jordan’s thriving tourist industry. About 10 minutes drive away is the ancient ruin of Al Beidha, known as Little Petra for its striking similarity to the main city. Historically, Al Beidha was an important suburb of Petra and is also entered via a narrow opening like the Siq. Inside you’ll find wonderful temples, tombs, frescos and water

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Top and above left: spectacular views of the Dead Sea, which lies between Jordan and Israel, near the capital city of Amman Above right: Bedouin guides lead a camel train through the Wadi Rum

channels, all carved out of the sandstone rock. Also nearby is Aaron’s Tomb. It’s believed that Aaron, the brother of Moses, died and was buried in the area. Today a beautiful, white-domed, 14th century mosque stands as a reminder of this historic event. Jordan is well blessed with visitor attractions, covering a range of interests from sightseeing to leisure to shopping. To the mid-west of the country is the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea, to the

Photography: © Visit Jordan

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Photography: Rex Features

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Above: deposits in the Dead Sea, evidence of the minerals that give it its famous buoyancy Left: marine life in the Red Sea, one of the world’s most popular diving locations

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south the Red Sea, a renowned SCUBA diving location, with its clear waters teeming with marine life. Aqaba is Jordan’s main resort on the Red Sea, but about 60km to the east is the extraordinary Valley of the Moon, more commonly known as the Wadi Rum. This remarkable natural feature is cut into the sandstone and, just like Petra, really has to be seen to be believed.

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Top: this view of Wadi Rum gives an impression as to why it is known as the Valley of the Moon Above: The Residences at The St Regis Amman, one of many new signs of foreign investment rising up in Jordan’s capital

Jordan’s thriving cities reveal a modern, vibrant country with plenty to offer travelers to the region. In recent years Jordan has enjoyed a period of strong growth, which in turn is attracting investment from outside property developers. Abu Dhabi based Al Maabar, for example, has developments in the seaside resort of Aqaba and the capital Amman. The latter is home to The St Regis Amman hotel and The Residences at The St Regis Amman, the latter located in two sixteen-storey towers with some seventy-nine private residences available for purchase. Facilities include a swimming pool, fitness centre, business centre, playgrounds, private theatre, butler service and a space for meetings and events. With such creature comforts, Jordan is attracting not only visitors but also new residents, charmed by its rich and varied attractions, its important position in the Middle East and, significantly, its stability. Jordan has recognised that it needs to back up its historic and natural wonders with all the amenities of a modern, businesslike state and it has invested heavily in infrastructure to meet these standards. Amman is right up there as a hub of activity for the tourist, packed with beautiful hotels, vibrant shopping facilities, restaurants and entertainment. What better place to start your voyage of discovery into all that Jordan has to offer? n

Photography: Courtesy of Visit Jordan

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Breguet, the innovator. Invention of the gong-spring, 1783

With the Classique “ Grande Complication ” 7637BB minute repeater wristwatch, hand-crafted in harmony with the finest traditions, Breguet reinvents the supreme horological complication. This stunning model features an entirely redesigned movement, patented innovations and a new position for the gong-spring. The spring-blade invented by Breguet in 1783 is struck by hammers to create an inimitably pure, crystal-clear chime. History is still being written ... www.breguet.com/inventions

A B U D H A B I B A L H A R B O U R B E I J I N G C A N N E S D U B A I E K AT E R I N B U R G G E N E V A G S TA A D H O N G K O N G L A S V E G A S L O N D O N L O S A N G E L E S M A C A O M I L A N M O S C O W N E W Y O R K N I N G B O P A R I S S E O U L S H A N G H A I S I N G A P O R E TA I P E I T O K Y O V I E N N A Z U R I C H – W W W. B R E G U E T. C O M


Steinway & Sons - Owner's Magazine - Issue One 2013