Building renovation in Ottawa means that Glenn Gould’s famous piano has to take a vacation to another location for a while.
It’s possibly the most famous musical instrument you’ve never heard of.
It brought several people, including a concert pianist, an orchestra conductor, dignitaries, fans, and members of the media, to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on Thursday.
They were there to watch, of all things, a piano being moved.
To be honest, the piano doesn’t even look that great. It’s scratched, beat up, and has a cracked sound board.
Nevertheless, it’s valued at $1.5 million. And many of the world’s most respected musicians have sought it out when they visit Ottawa. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to touch it and play it,” said acclaimed Canadian pianist Jan Lisiecki.
So what makes this piano so special?
It’s known as CD 318 – a Steinway concert grand piano once owned by the late, legendary Glenn Gould.
The story goes that Gould discovered the piano in 1960 at the old Eaton Auditorium in Toronto, and immediately fell in love with its sound and feel. He recorded most of his works on it and had it shipped to wherever he was performing. After it was dropped and broken, he moved it into his apartment rather than get rid of it.
As is often the case between musician and instrument, the piano became an extension of Gould himself. “This instrument is almost a physical embodiment of his spirit. That’s why it’s very important,” says NAC Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley.