Something cool that happened yesterday. Went to check out a Sébastien Érard piano from around 1900. Rudy, the owner of a popular bar in town called PiliPili, bought it at auction a couple of years back and imported it from Europe. He originally bought it for decoration as it's very beautiful, with handles to help move it, candle holders and curvy legs.
With the possible exception of the Emile Vits, it's the oldest piano we've seen so far in Kigali. Roughly 117 years to Kigali Music School's 93-year-old Heintzman. At least we know how this one came to be in Rwanda.
Unfortunately, it's not in good condition. It needs a full hammer and damper replacement, new hammer rail felt and string braids, and it's got five broken hammer shanks.
It's also got a few missing key tops. As with the Heintzman, that's difficult because they're ivory. You can't replace ivory key tops because ivory is illegal. On the upside, Rudy's got some spare keys and we can strip the ivory from those to replace the broken pieces. On the downside, it's still ivory, and that's particularly poignant when you're fixing pianos in Africa. Sort of like the elephant foot table in President Habyarimana's palace.
Some cute features on this piano do include an extremely slim string frame.
Key lettering on each tuning pin. How incredibly helpful is that! Wish every piano had it.
And an illegible (thanks to the strings) piece of script on the back.
PiliPili is a very nice bar with a pool and a stunning view of Kigali. If they decide to go ahead with the refurbishment, you'll soon be able to listen to the sound of a piano whilst watching the sun go down.