I’ve just got a piano!


I bought myself a piano! She’s a 94 year old upright grande dame, made by Heintzman Co., in 1925, in Toronto. Despite her old age, she’s still in great shape, because she was built like a tank, with a beautiful mellow voice.

As Mr. Musselwhite, a third generation piano tuner, said in his book: “The Heintzman uprights of the 1920’s, the greatest upright pianos ever produced anywhere in the world, are becoming fewer and fewer as time marches on. There will never be another true Heintzman.”

She’s been rebuilt by Mr. Robert (Bob) Delyea of Delyea Pianos, a piano technician in his 80s, who used to work for Heinztman in the 1950s. UPDATE on Feb 15, 2022: I’ve just received the news today that Bob passed away in Sep 2020 due to cancer. It’s a sad news for me. Bob was a kind, caring, and gentle piano technician. I’m honoured to have the Heintzman piano that was rebuilt by him. It’s been more than two years now since I acquired it, and I love the piano more and more. I play it everyday. I’m glad that I got to know Bob and had a chance to play a song of mine for him. I will miss you, Bob.

Another nice thing about the piano is that she only cost me a fraction of what a brand new modern piano would cost. Most people want shiny new things, and overlook these old-time treasures! It’s partially due to my budget constraints that I found this great madam.

The first night she moved into my apartment, I didn’t like her. She was not in tune, and her very flexible soundboard exacerbated it. And besides, she seemed too overpowering, I wasn’t sure I could handle her. I couldn’t sleep. I twisted and turned in my bed until 3 am, when I got up and pushed her to the farthest corner of my apartment, before I finally fell to sleep.

The next day I called Bob, and he came to calm me down and tune the piano then as I requested, even though he was supposed to do it after one month, when she has already acclimated to the new environment.

Slowly I got used to her. I play her every morning when I get up. And now I love her. I call her Mary, to remember a great friend who has just passed away, who encouraged me to do my music right from the start.

Look at the beautiful Tuscan sunlight that cast on Mary’s dress in the photo above from years ago, and in the photo next to it, the sunlight that cast on Mary, the piano, this morning in my apartment in Toronto. Look at the colours of the lights and the shadows that go across them! Ain’t it something?

I’m trying to teach myself to accompany with the piano. The only song I can do it at the moment is Song Ten (Spring), as it has only two chords (G and D). Still a long way to go! But I simply enjoy playing, or rather doodling on, the piano.

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