Thursday, July 19, 2007

WGBH's New Hamburg Steinway

Edgar B. Herwick, Senior Marketing Coordinator of Boston's WGBH, sent me the following anecdote about the arrival of the venerable Boston classical radio station's new Hamburg Steinway:

A radio host, a classical pianist, and a highly trained instrument technician walk into an inconspicuous New York City warehouse, which just happens to be chock-full of prized Hamburg Steinway pianos, and begin taking one apart...

This was the scene when a small but remarkable faction of Boston's robust classical music set piled into a rental van and headed south to New York City. Their mission? To find the musical equivalent of a needle in a haystack: the perfect piano for WGBH 89.7's brand new state-of-the art performance studio. It had to be versatile: one that would sound dazzling to live audiences in the studio, brilliant when broadcast, and impeccable when recorded; an instrument that over the next decade and a half will be played by some of the world's finest musicians and heard by literally millions of people from Brighton, Masachusetts to Brighton, England.

It was no small task. In tow were WGBH 89.7 Program Director Jon Solins, WGBH 89.7 Classical hosts Cathy Fuller and Richard Knisely, BSO piano guru Jon von Rohr, and two renowned local pianists: Marc-André Hamelin and Mihae Lee. From Von Rohr's a-hoc tutorial in the van to the moment when the final decision was made over a platter of kung pao chicken, it was a fascinating day.

They eventually settled on a Hamburg Steinway that the musicians described like this:

"From my first experience playing this piano, I was immediately drawn in to its robust sound and broad spectrum of color. These are the qualities that I always seek in a piano, but it is rare to find an instrument that contains such a range from raw power and brilliant clarity to exquisite delicacy and shadings as this piano has. I can't wait to play it as it is reaching its full potential in your beautiful new studio.
-- Mihae Lee, pianist

"As I played it, it acted as an extension of my heart and fingers. There were no barriers between what I imagined and what I could play. This is the highest praise I can give any piano."
-- Marc-André Hamelin, pianist

Last week the piano arrived at our new studios in Brighton, Massachusetts. You can see pictures of the warehouse, the piano, and its arrival in our new sudios on our flickr page at


Thanks for the info, Edgar, and best of luck to the entire WGBH family, whose new Steinway will have a happy home in the station's new Fraser Performance Studio (pictured above).

WGBH Home Page

WGBH Radio Schedule and Webcasts


  1. Hi Chris,

    That's quite an informative post.

    One wouldn't refute the description of Hamburg Steinway by the musicians.

    I was actually curious to know about Steinway and restoration processes, and landed on this blog.

    I am sure most people would still want to work on their Steinway and even if it gets damaged some way or another.

    If I owned a Steinway I would want to have it repaired because Steinway is one of the finest instruments built by hand.

    The difficulty that most of the owners of antique Steinway Grand Piano face is lack of adequate after-service for Steinway.

    Incidentally, I understand that expert service for piano restoration is available at:

    I was also interested in knowing how piano restoration work is done, and found an impressive video at:

    Thanks again for the wonderful blog that you have here, keep up the good work!!


    Bhaskar Karampudi