December 21, 2012 | Queens College
Donations play an instrumental role in improving college facilities. That is literally true for the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, which recently received two vintage Steinway pianos from people closely associated with QC.
The first Steinway, a six-foot Model L made in 1935, came from Professor Emeritus Henry Weinberg, who had retired to Philadelphia. “When I’d go to visit him, I’d play his piano, and he’d casually say, ‘You know, we’re planning to donate this piano to the school,’” recalls ACSM Director Edward Smaldone. Weinberg’s relocation back to New York City this fall changed this casual comment into a reality, and Smaldone cheerfully dispatched a mover to collect the gift.
Soon after he heard from Weinberg, Smaldone learned that he was about to get a second Steinway, courtesy of Barry and Claire Brook. The couple had been prominent in academic music: He was the first executive officer at CUNY’s doctoral music program and was professor of music at QC for over 30 years; she was a QC alumna who was senior music editor for W. W. Norton & Company for over 25 years. Barry died in 1999 and his widow (at Smaldone’s suggestion) made provision in her will to donate their Steinway—a 5-foot, 7-inch Model M dating to 1923—to QC. Her death this year prompted the Brooks’ daughter to call ACSM and request a pickup in Manhattan.
“Now, one piano is in a studio, where students practice on it round the clock,” reports Smaldone. “The other went to a classroom to replace an instrument that was ready for retirement. We’ll be installing plaques on each piano so that students and faculty will know that they were gifts.”
Together, the two instruments are worth about $35,000; equivalent new models would cost a combined $120,000. But they have a different sort of value to ACSM. “The gift of these instruments puts us a little closer to achieving all-Steinway status,” Smaldone explains.
“All-Steinway” status, a designation created about seven years ago, indicates that at least 90% of the pianos used by faculty and students are Steinway-made, and meet standards of age and quality. “Steinway is recognized worldwide as the manufacturer of the world’s finest pianos,” Smaldone notes. “It makes a strong statement about our commitment to deliver the finest education that we have set our sights on providing our students with these excellent instruments. Over 150 schools worldwide are now designated all-Steinway. We would be the first CUNY school to be so designated.”
For more about Queens College visit http://www.qc.cuny.edu/Pages/default.aspx
Contact: Phyllis Cohen Stevens
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