A second life for people’s pianosThe piano was an authentic phenomenon in the music industry from the 19th to the 20th century. The instrument also proliferated in Barcelona households, many of which still own one even if nobody ever uses it. This is the context for the ‘Pianos for all’ initiative, a project to connect private piano owners wanting to donate their instruments with entities and associations in need of one.
The initiative by the Museu de la Música and the Institute of Culture is designed to give a second life to pianos in city homes which are still in good condition but which have been forgotten.
The Museu de la Música regularly receives offers of donations of pianos in good condition which might not find a place in the collection or which don’t meet the necessary criteria. At the same time, there are plenty of social and cultural entities in the city whose users work with music but which haven’t got a sufficient budget to purchase an instrument of this type.
As of October 2019, the initiative has helped with the donation of seven pianos to different organisations, including a youth centre, a community centre, three homes for the elderly, a care centre for people with disabilities and a choir. The museum also has seven more pianos still to be transferred.
The donation process
Anybody with a piano in good condition can donate it, and social, cultural civic and educational entities (mainly in the city) can apply to receive one. The Museu de la Música has made a form available on its website.
When the museum receives an offer of a donation it contacts the owner to get as much information as possible on their piano through photos, a description of what condition it is in, its history, origin etc. If the instrument is of interest, the museum sends a specialist to assess its condition and decide if it meets the project requisites. If so, the piano is assigned a destination and the museum handles the transfer and helps get the instrument ready to be used.
For their part, entities must provide a brief project outline explaining what they do and what they need the piano for. When the association meets the requisites and accepts the commitments to form part of the initiative, they are assigned a piano according to their needs.
While there is no charge for the piano and it is checked and delivered ready to use, the entity is responsible for the maintenance cost of the instrument in the mid to long term, including tuning it and any removal or repair costs.
A historical piano for a historical choir
The latest donation by the ‘Pianos for all’ initiative went to the Agrupació Coral Recreativa Flors de Maig, a choir group in the neighbourhood of El Raval. The instrument in question was a century-old upright piano made by the Paul Izabal factory, a company established in C/Tallers at the end of 19th century. The donor family bought it in 1973, with the case and the inner mechanism restored. The technical team made an analysis of the instrument and certified it as in excellent conditionbefore it was assigned to the choir.
The acquisition of the piano by the choir closes a circle, with the historical instrument returning to the neighbourhood where it was made.