Class struggle—the musical

Over the weekend, my lovely wife and I, always ready to extend a welcome to new arrivals in the neighborhood, dropped by a big addition just added to the Natick Mall—sorry, The Natick Collection—apparently, the word “mall” now carries too much of a whiff of the lumpenproletariat for luxe-minded shoppers. Anyway, as Veblenesque theme parks go, it’s not bad: bright and airy, shiny continental techno music emanating from the high-end designer boutiques and hovering just at the threshhold of audibility, etc., etc. Can I afford anything in the new places? Nope. But if you’re the type who’s been worried that a dearth of opportunities to spend four figures on a handbag has somehow made Metrowest Boston incurably provincial, worry no more.

Right in the middle of the place, M. Steinert & Sons, who, as they never fail to remind you, are New England’s exclusive representative for Steinway & Sons pianos, had plunked down a big new nine-foot Steinway “D.”

Apparently, there was a professional serenading the patrons at the grand opening, but when we were there, the only players heard were passing children, availing themselves of the opportunity to tickle the polymer-based fake ivories until their parents became sufficiently incensed at their dilatoriness. Some of them weren’t bad, actually, sending forth the burnished tones of their beginning repertoire with anti-establishment glee. A closer look at the instrument revealed that the kids were in good company:

That frame’s been autographed by Peter Serkin! Which probably means that, at some point, he played this instrument—or else one of his stage door fans is Mr. Universe. As a tribute, I added a few half-remembered bars of Schoenberg to the fray before once again leaving the proceedings in the hands of the younger generation. Now, if this open-keyboard thing is a permanent fixture, and the ambience is always going to be graced by kids randomly plinking away, that would actually be a big draw for me. If that’s the case, though, maybe they should find an instrument signed by David Tudor.


  1. Had Schoenberg happened to walk through the Natick Collection, he would have been overjoyed to hear his music there, adding to the sum of human happiness.

  2. I don’t know about a piano signed by Tudor, but would a < HREF="" REL="nofollow">bandoneon<> do?

  3. You want provincial? I give you Minneapolis, where our shopping mall pianos are roped off and covered up, with signs on them that read “Authorized use only. Surveillance cameras in use.”

  4. That’s nothing, the piano in my own living room is roped off and guarded by a detail of machine gun-toting ex-Securitate goons. Even I am not allowed to touch it.

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