Metropolis Piano Restoration

July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.”


Rousing words of Daniel Burnham, the late 19th century visionary architect speaking for “The City Beautiful” movement which addressed large scale deficiencies in cities like Chicago and Washington D.C.

Okay, enough history, and since I was asked to write about the restored Metropolis Steinway piano, what does “The City Beautiful” have to do with that? Well, aside from the Steinway coming only a decade after Burnham’s 1909 master plan for Chicago, a whole lot. Burnham thought about things on a grand scale, No, not grand pianos, but parks, bridges, boulevards, fountains, monumental buildings, all of which would unite the city, and, in the process, promote a harmonious social order. Here’s the connection:  these things like parks and bridges and boulevards, they’re tools. They’re tools that are intended to transform us. To get us from one place to another literally, or, from one state of mind to another figuratively. And so is the piano, or any instrument for that matter. They’re tools. Tools not only for making music but for transforming ourselves into better musicians and the listener into a more attentive listener.

In restoring a piano we use a variety of tools, many of which are woodworking tools by nature. To cut the notches in the soundboard bridge for instance, we use chisels, all of which must be kept razor sharp. It takes extra work to keep a chisel sharp, and you might think a chisel with a razor sharp edge to be dangerous. It is, but not nearly as dangerous as a chisel with a dull edge. Not only will a dull chisel produce an ill defined notch, but since you have to work harder to get the chisel to cut into the wood, you stand a greater chance of actually cutting yourself. Both results are not what one had hoped for.

This is where Daniel Burnham speaks to us. Our musical tools must be razor sharp, the best that we can make them, otherwise our hopes for becoming better musicians may not be realized. Metropolis has planned big by acquiring the restored Steinway B which will soon be available for student recitals. Piano4te is building on that by restoring the Baldwin concert grand to a much better sounding, responsive and finer looking instrument for the main stage.

The restoration of the Baldwin will be quite similar to that of the Steinway. It will happen over a span of months, and, if you would like to follow the restoration, you can view a photo journal and narrative of the process at:

We’re honored to have been chosen to do this work for Metropolis, thrilled with making a better piano for those who will be playing it, and really excited about creating a more enjoyable experience for those who will be listening. As Daniel Burnham might say, “Let the magic begin.”

by: Jack Kehe                  July 1, 2012                             Arlington Heights


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