The Steinway (2)

Continuing the story of how I came to own my beautiful Steinway.

Long after my divorce, I learned that my wife had arranged for one of my children to be present during my testimony. She believed, correctly, that I would not level severe criticisms against her with one of her children listening. The end result was that I lost everything. My wife was awarded all our property, and I had to pay alimony. I was destitute. I was reduced to living in a rented attic in a joint house with five other men.

In the years after the divorce, I gradually regained financial equilibrium. Then my ex-wife died suddenly. I was free of the onerous alimony.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter, Susan, now an adult, and I subscribed to the ballet series at the Kennedy Center every year. Often, before the performance, we would visit the opera house lounge. We would arrive early in the evening before the hired pianist was on duty. I’ve never been able to resist a playing a piano sitting idle and waiting for attention, so I asked if I could try the Steinway grand that was in the lounge.

Over the years, I tried a number of different pianos. One I played enthralled me. It had the most beautiful sound I had ever encountered. I played it before each of the performances that season. The next season, it was gone—replaced by another piano.

More years passed. One day, my daughter’s husband called me and asked me to come to their house right away. I explained that I was in jeans and a tee-shirt and would have to bathe and dress. No, he said, come as you are. He gave no explanation.

Alarmed, I hurried to their place. As soon as I arrived, they told me to get in their car. We were going somewhere. No explanation of where.

We drove into Washington, D.C., and I remarked that we were getting close to the Kennedy Center. Once there, my daughter and her husband escorted me through the stage entrance to the Eisenhower Theater. The theater’s stage was filled with Steinway grand pianos. I learned that the Kennedy Center was replacing its pianos and was selling off the old ones.

More tomorrow.

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