the one-of-a-kind piano is inspired by the compositions of MUssorgsky
It is officially known as the (slightly unwieldy) ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ Model D Concert Grand Piano, but an image paints a far better picture of what, and why, this particular Steinway & Sons piano is so prized.
Delicate oil paintings and embellishments adorn the grand piano (and the piano seat), painted by artist and world-class concert pianist Paul Wyse. Art case pianos are not uncommon for Steinway, but this is its first inspired by a musical composition. And not just any piece, but Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s famous ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. Just as the 10-movement romantic suite depicts Mussorgsky’s feelings when viewing the memorial exhibition of his best friend, artist-architect Viktor Hartmann, the outer rim of the piano is painted with people appreciating artwork at a museum. The lid is painted with a pastoral scene of Russia’s countryside (on the outside) and the Great Gate of Kiev (on the inside).
Other embellishments include curious cuckoo-clocks – based on Hartmann’s depictions of the mythical Russian witch Baba Yaga’s hut as an ornate clock – as legs and a stool shaped like grand arches (protected by miniature guards on horseback). It took Wyse some four years to complete the paintings on the 2.7 metre piano, which also contains rosewood keys and a gold-plated music desk and pedals. 24-carat gold leaf gild the edges of the piano, making this truly a musical treasure.