“Your school has a what?” Eventually the student came up with this sentence:
“In the Taisho period, Onomichi Higashi High School bought a Bechstein grand piano.”
It was one of those rare moments when I wished I was teaching English in a school instead of an eikawa. In that school.
A little digging around and I came up with this page from the school’s website:
Version with picture here: http://www.onomichihigashi-h.hiroshima-c.ed.jp/onomichihigashi%20HP/behisyutain.html
Actually, the school didn’t buy the piano in the Taisho Period – they bought it in 1931, to celebrate the school’s 20th anniversary. It’s a mystery to them as to why the manufacturer’s plate contains a 1906 serial number. Did they actually order it in advance and it took 25 years to get there? (Just kidding.) When the Bechstein was taken to Hiroshima for performances in 1953, the legs were damaged during transport, and apparently over the years the climate and less-than-ideal piano room also took their toll. For the school’s 80th anniversary, a full restoration of the piano was done, at a cost of about $60,000. Ouch.
There’s been some great songs recorded on Bechstein grand pianos. Apparently Debussy said “Piano music should only be written for the Bechstein”, and Liszt’s favourite piano was a Bechstein. There’s more about the history of Bechstein here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._Bechstein_Pianofortefabrik#cite_note-31
見たい。。。Maybe I can actually see and hear this fascinating bit of local history before I leave Japan…