October 10, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Concert to Honor Historic Steinway & Sons’ Grand Piano – a 1918 Gem Which Belonged to Harry S. Harkness and Has Just Surfaced After Many Years.
When Henry Steinway laid eyes on the grand piano by Steinway & Sons built in 1918 that once belonged to the very notable Harry S. Harkness, he said, ” This belongs in a museum. She’s a beauty!”
In honor of this stunning museum-worthy Steinway & Sons Model B Grand Piano, a concert will be held on October 27th at the Ralston Mansion in Belmont, California. The featured guest will, of course, be the grand piano. This is the first time that this beautiful instrument with its fascinating history has been available for purchase.
Having been restored to it’s original beauty, including the 24 karat gold leaf patina highlighting the detailed carvings, this piano is one of the most expensive pianos built during that era. With the magnificence of it’s tone and beautiful art case this piece of American history brings with it the allure of an intriguing past and more than a hint of drama and romantic mystery.
Harry S. Harkness, who has been referred to as the Howard Hughes of his era, was one of the pioneers in early aviation as well as an acclaimed automobile racer who raced against Henry Ford and awarded his Harkness Trophy to Louis Chevrolet. Harry was also a yachtsman who actually leased his yacht to the U.S. Navy in World War I and which was credited with sinking three German U-boats. Harry’s father, Lamon Harkness, was one of the largest stockholders in Standard Oil when the Rockefellers were just starting the company.
In 1918 Harry purchased the Steinway & Sons Model B grand piano for his lovely second bride, Florence Harkness, as he reportedly enjoyed lavishing her with expensive gifts. Harry had the piano art case contracted to be built by the master furniture craftsmen of the time, Schmieg/Hungate/Kotzian. Sadly, Harry died of influenza in 1919 in the global disaster of the flu pandemic that swept across the world killing up to 40 million people. Harry was never able to present this spectacular gift to his wife as the art case had not been completed when Harry died. Shortly after his death, the piano was delivered to his wife’s door.
The concert celebrating this exquisite piano will feature Theodora Martin, an 18 year-old piano phenom. Born in Bucharest, Romania, Theodora has won numerous national and international competitions, taking first place in many of them. Also performing will be the talented Marcia Cope-Hart, soprano, who is currently performing with “Phantom of the Opera” in the Las Vegas spectacular. Marcia has performed with such greats as Luciano Pavarotti, Beverly Sills and Renata Scotto. Adding a lively kick to the event the ever fabulous Kaye Boyler will also be performing. Her rich sultry sound never fails to captivate.