For more than five decades it has been played by legends of classical music and comedy including pianists such as Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Peter Donohoe and comedians Les Dawson and Victoria Wood.
However, the myriad of beautiful melodies performed on the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra’s grand piano had finally taken its toll and the instrument was in need of some necessary repairs to allow new generations to hear its unique sound.
Now, following a year of restoration the Steinway Model D has returned to its home at Hull City Hall and is ready for its first classical concert on 29 September.
Martin Roscoe, who is regarded as one of UK’s best loved pianists, has the honour of playing the piano’s first recital to an invited audience. The programme will include music from Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy and Dohnanyi.
Andrew Penny, Musical Director of Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, said: “It is truly wonderful to see our beloved piano restored to its former glory and we are delighted Martin has agreed to perform with us.
“It was about three years ago that we felt that one of our biggest assets, the Steinway Model D grand piano might be ready for some tender loving care.
“For more than fifty years it has been the instrument at the centre of piano concertos, recitals, festivals and choral concerts at Hull City Hall.
“Therefore In May last year, our magnificent piano, christened by Rubinstein, who is regarded as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time, disappeared into a large van and headed north.”
The restoration project took a year to complete and was carried out by the Tyneside Piano Company in Ashington, Northumberland at a cost of £25,000. The works included a new action, the replacement of all felts and washers, the refurbishment of the soundboard and a new set of strings and tuning pins.
It was originally bought in the early 1970s and during the piano’s rich history has been played by Ashkenazy, Donohoe, Martin Roscoe, Alessandro Taverna, BBC Young Musicians, Leeds Piano Competition finalists, Les Dawson, Victoria Wood, a host of young Hull Festival hopefuls and a myriad of accompanists.
Now, its future is secured after the cost of the restoration was met by a number of donations including a pledge of up to £10,000 from Hull City Council, The Hull Philharmonic Trust, an independent charity and members of the public, who raised more than £10,000.
A spokesperson from Hull City Council said: “We are delighted to see the piano restored to its former glory and that it can now be enjoyed by future generations.”
The concert on Sunday will launch the popular Classics Season at Hull City Hall and also aims to celebrate the generosity of everyone involved in the project.
Mr Penny said: “The recital is a thank you for all the donations, but none of this would have been possible without the financial help we have received from many people.
“The donations varied in size and personal significance; a single fiver in an envelope thrust into the hand of a Steward was just as helpful as the anonymous cheque sent to us in memory of the donor’s wife.
“The public have shown such emotional connection to the cause and I would like to personally thank everyone involved in this project.”
[David Paine – Hull City Council]