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Arts & Life

Vladimir Horowitz’s Steinway Available For All To Play

Julie Denesha

For six decades, classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz performed for concert audiences around the world. Horowitz died in 1989, but the Steinway grand piano that accompanied him on still touring North America.

Horowitz’s concert grand Steinway piano arrived Wednesday at the Schmitt Music Company in Overland Park, Kan. And through July 11, visitors will have a chance to play the instrument.

"We are having Vladimir Horowitz’s concert grand Steinway that was his own personal piano that he enjoyed for over 50 years," said Harry Reed, piano department manager. "It was in his apartment in New York. It's the piano he used to record with. It's the piano he took to Moscow with him to do his great return to Moscow concert."

Interview Highlights

"A huge person in music"

"I remember watching the concert on TV that he did in Russia, I think it was Russia. And people were just weeping, and it was awesome," said Jan Girando, who stopped by the store on Saturday to play the piano. "And even though I'm not a classical music person, that experience, how could it not stay with somebody? So, he was huge. He was a huge person in music."

Girando adds, "There's no other time you'd ever be able to do something like this and even though it was totally terrifying, I thought, 'Just get up, get over there and do it,' because this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

"Like hitting a ball with Babe Ruth's bat"

"We have had other famous pianos here before. But this is the first time that we will have CD #503, a piano of this stature, a piano of, well, quite possibly the most famous Steinway piano ever," Harry Reed said. "For those people who followed Vladimir Horowitz, who was widely considered to be the greatest pianist of the 20th century, this is like hitting a ball with Babe Ruth's bat or singing a song in Elvis' blue suede shoes. I don't know, but this is the top of the mountain right now."

"Don't think about it, just keep going"

"The piano is really magnificent, particularly for me at the low end, the sound is huge, and that was surprising when I started to play," Jan Girando said. "The only time I really thought about who had played this in the past was right at the end and I thought, 'Don't think about it, just keep going.'

An "aura" about Horowitz's piano

"I was a piano major at William Jewell College and I met my wonderful wife and decided to get away from piano for quite a long time. But about two years ago, I picked it back up, so here I am," said Craig Hagenbuch, who also played the piano on Saturday. "I am excited to be with the Horowitz piano, for sure."

"It's going to sound a little funny, but I just, you sit down and there's, I feel like there's an aura," Hagenbuch said. "I grew up listening to Horowitz. I never got to see him play alive, but just the fact that I'm sitting here looking across the piano like he has was just a bit overwhelming. It took me a little aback, but I was just trying to work through what I was playing, trying to forget that I was playing on his piano as opposed to just playing."

To reserve time to play Vladimir Horowitz’s concert grand Steinway piano, through Thursday, July 11, call Schmitt Music Company, Rosana Square, 7316 West 119th St, Overland Park, Kan. 913-663-4756. Reservations are free. The music store will also host a free performance by Steinway Artist Steven Spooner on Thursday, July 11, at 7 p.m.