Back in 2004 I decided to open a commercial recording studio, primarily to further my work as composer, arranger and producer. But I also had a desire to provide high-quality affordable piano recordings for pianists. There were very few options in the Boston area at the time, and not affordable. So I started the search for a piano. Originally I was looking for a Steinway because . . . well . . . STEINWAY! I have always been a fan and still am to this day, particularly of the Steinway D concert grand. Beautiful. But would I be able to afford a Steinway D? Nope. Besides Steinways have a particular tone and tend to be featured on classical and jazz recordings. I wanted to have an instrument in the studio with more versatility, to include pop/rock and other contemporary music genres.
I briefly thought about a Yamaha concert grand, but they tend to be much brighter and usually best for contemporary music idioms (and not classical). Then a piano technician friend suggested looking into a Bösendorfer. I was intrigued! After all Victor Borge insisted on playing his Bösendorfer “Imperial” (10-foot concert grand!) at all his concerts, and I was a big fan. So I began my research. After listening and inquiring for some time, it seemed that while the Bösendorfer was not as widely used in the States, it was a frequent mainstay in Europe. It also has a tone that is adaptable for many different music styles, which is exactly what I was looking for!
Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans was quoted saying:
“the Bosendorfer is the best of the best, a sure pleasure to work on. In fact, because the piano offered so much more, I found myself, as I was playing, suddenly wanting to try new things— and things I’d fallen into doing the same way, I wanted to do differently. It just served to remind me how much the instrument has to do with the development of how you play music, and how you express it, you know. . . . The Bosendorfer is great—I’d love to have one in my home.” (Bill Evans interview with Les Tomkins, 1976)
Other artists in jazz, classical and pop music spoke similarly, and thus I started my quest to find a B220 Bösendorfer Grand. The B220 is 7’6” in length. It is equivalent to the Steinway B, which is just over 6’10” in length. Many artists and composers I spoke with while doing research all felt that a piano less than 7 feet in length would not have the richness in the lower notes that they would require for recording. So the B220 seemed like a perfect option!
After a few “false starts” of hopeful options for a purchase (in Maryland, Texas and California; which the latter even resulted in a purchased plane ticket and the owner backing out just 6 hours before my plane was ready to leave!), I found my “baby” in a private home in Chicago. Beautifully maintained, smoke-free environment, cared for by a pianist looking to upgrade. A perfect God-ordained scenario. A few months later I was receiving my new piano at my new studio. A dream come true!
Flash-forward to today and I am thankful that I get to enjoy recording my music in my home studio with the same piano, as well as still provide high-quality affordable piano tracks for other musical artists. On my next PLOG (“Pianist’s Blog”) I will highlight some of the features of this incredible instruments and share why it is especially a perfect instrument for recording my solo piano music (like on my Prayerful Improvisations series).
Thanks for listening!