I enjoy every client project, but every now and then a “once in a lifetime opportunity” presents itself and I get to work on an incredibly rare instrument. On this page I will highlight my most recent extraordinary project. I hope you enjoy viewing it!
I just concluded a very special project, namely, bringing back to life a 1933 Christensen grand piano built in Denmark. This piano was produced at the zenith of the Art Deco period.
In 1930 the collaboration between Poul Henningsen, world renowned designer of Art deco lighting fixtures and Andreas Christensen, contemporary builder of unique piano designs, produced what is referred to as: “The Piano of Light”. This was a minimalistic approach to the grand piano with graceful curved chrome steel legs and pedal lyre, embossed leather sides and a clear glass top lid and music desk. This piano creation would be very modern even by today’s standards.
The Christensen piano purchased by the current owner retained all of its artistic value but lacked the features of a musical instrument. It played poorly and sounded horrid. The process of bringing this piano to a high standard of musicality required every skill and resource that I could garner. This included but was not limited to: replacing the cracked pinblock with a new 11 ply block, recapping the treble bridge and replacing critical components with best available.
I reached out to scale-designer, Arno Patin – Stephen Paulello for a new scale design for this rather short (4’10”) piano. I was pressing for a richer, fuller tone and smoother transitions between sections of strings. This was accomplished through their expert advice and supply of custom made strings.
Through the years of use and changes of various worn action parts by many different technicians working on this piano, it was in poor condition. The replacement parts were too heavy or mismatched to action. This resulted in very little consistency in action settings and an unusually heavy feel to the key stroke. I had very little of the original specs to work with and no current data available.
With the help of one of my colleagues, we measured the basic leverages and design limitations and produced a plan to increase power, control friction, and weigh off keys for proper touch-weight. Calling on Wessell, Nickel & Gross Co. (state-of-the-art piano action and action parts maker), we had custom parts made for the action, giving us exactly what was needed for the desired outcome.
Satisfied with the result, a special press hammer was selected to complete the process of tone control and voicing.
After hundreds of hours of meticulous work, it now sits in the owner’s home ready to produce the musical sounds that will compliment the graceful lines of this very unique piano.