My Instruments – Pianos

Family Piano

1896 Thurmer Upright

As a player who has been brought up on pianos from the age of 9, I have a preference for real pianos, especially grand pianos. Our first family piano was an 1896 German THURMER upright piano with an overdamper action. It was bought for my mother Helena, in the 1930’s and is still in our family’s possession residing in my sister’s home, and remarkably, it still plays quite well. Both my parents played a little, Mum strictly by ear, and Dad only by having music in front of him – he was also very good at playing the organ in our local church, and I have inherited both the ear playing and reading skills, plus a good memory for hundreds or possibly thousands of tunes.

Hello to my First Grand Piano

When I moved away from home in the country to live in Melbourne, Victoria, I shared a house with my teacher who owned an Australian made Werthiem Concert Grand Piano which measured over nine feet [ almost three metres ] in length with a majestic sound of awe inspiring power. I was able to buy it from my teacher who was heading overseas and do my practice on this monster of an instrument every day, and ever since there has been a total addiction on my part to have a grand in the family. Circumstances changed after 3 years and, very sadly I had to sell it – moving such an instrument from rented premises to rented premises is a logistical nightmare and very expensive, so an upright piano was the answer.

Hello to my First Upright

Staying with a quality Australian brand my next one was a Beale which had been a pianola, but had all the player mechanism removed thus making it a normal piano. Beales were revered for their durability, excellent actions and superb tone, and although it wasn’t the same quality of sound as the Werthiem it certainly was a great and more portable instrument.  It was sold when I moved interstate and after settling in to my new home, another Beale upright joined the family. After a year my gypsy spirit said I should return to the original home of Melbourne, and this Beale number two was sold. Next was a Lipp upright of German origin which I kept for several years and was sold when I moved to Singapore.

My C3 Love Affair Begins………. 

Yamaha C3 in Black / Ebony

Life was never the same after that as I was asked by the hotel management to go to the local Yamaha warehouse and choose any model of Grand Piano as long as it was white [ to suit the interior decorators taste ] The model I chose was a white Yamaha C3 which was a very nice instrument but not as  beautiful as a better playing black C3 next to it – the decorator won the argument but I started my lifelong love affair with black C3’s.  The letter “C” refers to the Conservatory Model which has a superior grade of materials and finish to the “G” models which play very well, but not to the “C” series excellent standard. The C3 is just over six feet in length and is about as big as most homes can comfortably accommodate. On my return to Australia, you guessed it, another Beale was bought, then sold as we had the chance to get an delightful August Forster upright which is still in the family.  Following this there was a bit more of the gypsy life when I went flying seaplanes and didn’t play for two years except for ” Happy Birthday ” occasionally on an electric piano, and a few months after settling on the Gold Coast and deciding to combine flying and piano playing, we found an auction advertisement which simply said Black Grand Piano – was it worth a look ?  Only rarely do general auctions have good pianos, but it was worth a look, perhaps ! You guessed it – a dusty black grand was up for auction.When I lifted the lid I was totally agog ! A Yamaha C3 ! It was a little older than the one in Singapore, but was just as good to play or even better, so we decided to bid for it. YES !!! We got it !  My love affair Black Yamaha C3 Grand has lived with us for eighteen glorious years and is still loved and played regularly.

Yamaha Concert Grand – the C3’s big brother.

6 thoughts on “My Instruments – Pianos

  1. Wow, Harry, you’ve certainly had your share of good pianos. I remember the first piano I ever had access to was an old baby grand that my father picked up for free. It only lasted for about a year. I think I had about fifteen piano lessons on that old baby.

    I now have a Yamaha CPS-50s keyboard that I occasionally dabble with, but not being a “real” musician I usually stick with the six strings on my guitars.

    • G’day Don,
      One of my mates has a CPS – 50 and reckons it is an OK instrument. I’m having a passionate affair with my Roland RD300 GX and love its’ feel and its’ sounds. String sounds are really warm for live work, but not sure if they record OK and guitar sound 3 is lovely.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Harry, thanks so much for sharing your history and love of piano’s, especially the Grand Pianos. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandmother’s upright piano in her house and bashing on the keys to make ‘music’.
    Alas, I didn’t inherit her skills but I have fond memories of piano’s in your own home.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Harry,

    I find it fascinating that some of us can play by ear and others need the music. My piano teacher always knew that if she played the piece for me first that I could pick it up instantly and she could not understand how I could do that but I could not understand how she could read music so well. I could read it but it got in the way of playing for me. 🙂
    I also started with an upright piano but now have a digital HP147Re Roland that the kids play more than I. I can still play tunes from when I was 11 without music but your memory bank is much larger than mine with music. 🙂 While I don’t pay as often, it is nice to have the option.

    Stay well, Eileen.

  4. Hi Harry,
    I would just love a Yamaha C3 – in black please 🙂
    In my last exam a few years ago at the Sydney Con I got to play on a magnificent black Steinway Concert Grand. It was absolutely beautiful to play. Alas, my nerves got the better of me and I got a B, but the examiner said I played Gerswin’s Prelude 1 with good attack and an excellent sense of rhythm – I think you’d have liked it Harry 🙂

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