Angela Hewitt’s rare, $200,000 Fazioli piano accidentally destroyed by movers in Berlin
But when the world-famous Canadian pianist waited for her movers to take away the giant instrument, the movers tiptoed into the control room and told Hewitt they had some difficult news to report.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she wrote.
After the accident, Hewitt mourned the unique instrument that she had toured across Europe for 17 years. She said it happened about two weeks ago, but it was “such a shock to me that I didn’t want to share it with the world right away”. The movers were “embarrassed,” she said. In their 35 years of experience, they had never done anything like this.
She had the remains of the piano delivered to Fazioli in Italy. But he told her that the instrument could not be saved. The iron frame broke, she said, along with the lid and much of the internal structure. Building it from scratch made no financial or artistic sense. The piano was “broken,” said Hewitt.
“I loved this piano,” she wrote. “It was my best friend, best companion. … It’s not anymore. “
In the past three decades, Hewitt toured the world as one of the most respected Bach interpreters of the time and played Bach’s “The Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II” as well as the composer’s famous fugues and sonatas in concert halls from Tokyo to Florence.
She traveled with the award-winning four-pedal Fazioli when she could, she said in a 2012 interview. It was important to have your own piano with you for recordings.
During her last stay in Germany last month, she was in the studio to finish the recording of “Beethoven Variations in Berlin”. Her piano, she said, had just installed new hammers and strings before production.
And then came the disaster.
In an email to the Washington Post, Hewitt described the acoustics of her piano in a large concert hall as “heaven.” Its intricate design, the way it “responded to every tiny variation of touch,” made its own game “grow” leaps and bounds in the 17 years it has been my companion, she said.
“This was a piano that gave back as much as you put in and then challenged you for more,” she wrote. “It had an infinite variety of vibrations and sounds – from the finest to the extremely powerful – making it suitable for any repertoire.”
She said she could play it for eight hours without ever getting bored or tired. She liked having Fazioli’s fourth pedal instead of the usual three and reserved it only for the finest songs. The unusual addition that she specifically requested from Fazioli brings the little hammers closer to the strings, making the keys easier to play with ease.
The piano has done that like no other in the world, a Fazioli spokeswoman Elena Turrin told The Post via email. While Fazioli makes a larger concert grand piano with a fourth pedal, the F308, he had to custom-fit the slightly smaller F278 model for Hewitt and place the fourth pedal where the middle tone pedal would normally be, instead of installing it on the side. Turrin called the design change a “delicate, complex and expensive modification”.
“In fact, her instrument was the only one in existence with this feature,” wrote Turrin: “This is a great loss to Ms. Hewitt.”
Terence Lewis, co-owner of Jacques Samuel Pianos in London and who knows both Hewitt and her piano, told the Guardian that her specific Fazioli piano model would be worth about £ 150,000, or about $ 194,000, if purchased new. While Hewitt didn’t reveal who the movers were, Lewis said she wouldn’t let anyone she didn’t trust move her piano.
David Andersen, a Los Angeles-based piano technician who oversees concert pianists, said that to suffer such irreparable damage to a piano, it would have taken a nasty fall. He estimated that a premium, bespoke Fazioli grand piano would cost between just under $ 200,000 and $ 250,000.
“These pianos are unique, especially when a professional player who has devoted his entire life to the subject chooses a piano,” he said. “You have a deep and deep relationship with it. Paolo will likely provide her with a wonderful new piano, but it won’t be the one she fell in love with. “
Hewitt said she is currently going through an “insurance saga” that is expected to last for several months. She said she was confident she could find another piano to make herself.
In the meantime she wrote on Facebook: “I hope my piano will be happy in piano heaven.”