A Piano’s Story
In a previous story, I mentioned how my parents bought a piano when I was 6 years old. At the time, I did not care much about the source of this piano. After the novelty faded, I viewed piano playing as a chore, rather than fun, and as mentioned there, I abandoned learning and playing early on.
Years have passed (this was more than 50 years ago…), and the piano had slowly deteriorated in our living room, collecting dust and scratches. We dared not sell it, on one hand, but we did not know what to do with it, on the other.
There were a few short periods in my life, during my teenage years, where I tried to improvise a bit, but these attempts were short lived and ill fated. I was missing a lot of knowledge and perseverance.
As I got married and moved out of my parents’ home, the piano went with us. Maybe I had some hopes to restart playing, but it didn’t happen. The piano had become a household furniture but the original shiny color had faded, the keys became yellowish, and some keys stopped making sound altogether. Sad but true.
Eventually, after several more moves, the piano landed at my daughter’s home and was there when I rediscovered piano playing as described in my previous story. At the time, I was practicing on a new Roland electric piano which I have recently bought. One night, as my wife and I were watching our grandchildren in my daughter’s home, I tried a bit of playing on this old piano and a thought came to my head: “What if I fixed the piano and brought it back to our home?”.
Bear in mind that by this time it was in a terrible shape. Most keys still worked but were badly off key. The responsiveness of the keys was terrible. I was not hopeful at all about the instrument’s chances of survival.
I did a quick internet search and found a young guy named Nimrod Simhovich, which seemed very enthusiastic about fixing pianos. He was ready to come and take a look at my old piano.
The good news was that he was ready to take on the job. The bad news was that it was a long process (about 6 weeks), will not be cheap, and there are some things which really cannot be fixed. His verdict was that even after he finishes, the piano will not be concert level but will be good enough for a home. That suited me fine.
The next day two huge guys came and carried the massive piece downstairs (more than 600 lbs., about 300 Kg) and into a truck. It went to Nimrod’s workshop.
I was biding my time waiting for the results and in the meantime, I googled the company which manufactured the piano (the name was written in the front). Surprisingly, I’ve never done this before, and I was amazed to find out that the German manufacturer, Gebr. Zimmerman (Translation: The Zimmerman Brothers), is one of the most esteemed piano manufacturers on the musical instrument market! The brothers got their initial training in the legendary Steinway factory and started their own factory in Leipzig, Germany in 1884. In their heyday, they manufactured more that 10,000(!) pianos a year! After WWII they have had a bad period, as they were part of the DDR (East Germany), but in 1992 they were bought by the well-known firm, Bechstein AG. They were integrated into their product range but still maintained the original, prestigious name.
Interestingly, the site had mentioned that each piano has a serial number which identifies when the piano was actually manufactured. That immediately sparked an urgent call to Nimrod. “Does the piano have a serial number?”, I asked feverishly. “Of course,” he responded, “It’s branded on the inside wood in several places”. I quickly checked the number that he gave me on the list that was published in the website and found out: It was a 1929 piano! When I received it, as a six years old kid, it was already 33 years old. It lived through WWII, who knows where, landed with a Jewish family, who knows how, and this family, maybe holocaust survivors, decided to leave the country, put the piano on a boat, and brought it with them to Israel, only to be sold to my parents… What a story!
So, after six weeks I was ready to visit Nimrod and see his recreation. It was obvious that he took his job seriously. The piano had been taken apart, each external piece was scrubbed, fixed, sandpapered, and repainted in matte black. The yellowish keys were replaced by an ivory-like white caps. The mechanism was repaired and cleaned so all the key sound perfect. To top it off, four lockable wheels were added at the bottom so the massive instrument could be moved with ease.
The huge duo showed up at my home the next day and put the piano in my living room. No longer is it a neglected piece of furniture, but rather a centerpiece which can produce hundreds of songs using our new PENTA language. Nimrod paid me another visit just to fine tune the piano after the move. What a guy!
But one thing needed to be done to make it complete — a large photo of my late mother was put on top of the piano. She was the one that really hoped for me to be able to play one day. Her dream is now fulfilled.