In early February, I was contacted by the Washington Post to contribute to an article chronicling the loss of Angela Hewitt’s longtime musical companion of 17 years, a handmade one-of-a-kind Fazioli Concert Grand Model F278, customized specifically for Ms. Hewitt. You can read the entire article HERE.
Which leads us to…
Every professional musician in the world, especially those who play in orchestras or perform in a solo capacity, plays on their own, beloved, reliable, completely familiar instrument, usually custom-modified to fit the player.
The vast majority of the best pianists, as they tour and record, are at the mercy of whatever instrument the venue or studio provides… Or perhaps it’s a rental or loaner piano that a manufacturer or a dealer makes available.
Playing music at a world-class level, requires complete immersion, and is almost a form of making love. And virtually every one of these pianists has to lose themselves, be intimate with…and make love to a complete stranger. There are many accounts written by great pianists over the last hundred or so years, describing the challenges and perils of playing on unfamiliar instruments, particularly those in less than optimal condition. To put this in perspective, it takes time to get to know a new or unfamiliar instrument. Each piano is different and has its own unique tonal and touch characteristics. This process can take weeks, perhaps months to cultivate. Most pianists don’t have this luxury.
Angela Hewitt is one of the very few pianists in the world who is able to record and play on her own piano, and for the past 17 years every recording and every concert, whenever possible, has been performed on her precious partner.
Imagine her shock, pain, and grief when her partner was killed. We don’t know all the details, but the movers accidentally dropped the piano on the way out of a recording studio and the damage was beyond repair.
Angela Hewitt lost a lover, her partner, her sanctuary. She will grieve that piano for some time, perhaps even years.
I’ve experienced this loss firsthand, both as a technician caring for a small handful of irreplaceable instruments that have been lost to fires, accidents, and other unfortunate events, as well as being a witness to their owners losing these irreplaceable pianos. The loss of a beloved piano affects its owner much the same way as losing a spouse, close friend or confidant, and follows the stages of grief that we all experience when we lose a loved one.
Angela Hewitt will get another Fazioli, likely a custom instrument like she had, thanks to her longstanding relationship with the owner of Fazioli pianos. She will hand select it. It will be a beautiful instrument. And life will go on.
But it will never be the same as the piano… there will always be that little spot of grief and loss in her heart for the great love that was lost.