FLORAL MEMORIAL TO A LOST TUNE
– Sadly one of New York’s most beloved recent attractions has been destroyed. First by taggers, then (supposedly) by the sea itself. See my post of June 2nd when I discovered the Mason and Hamlin piano there on the shores of our East River/Atlantic Ocean right under the Brooklyn Bridge. It became fodder for every news reporter, tourists loved it and New Yorkers adopted it. The police and harbor patrol looked the other way as people hopped over the gate to be photographed with the piano, the ‘beach’ there is not for public access especially since at high tide the water reaches the West Side Highway. But flock they did, as did I several times. Check out the Internet and you will find some of the most creative and joyful photos taken with it.
I did some research myself. The serial number under the key board, 335 26661, according to Mason & Hamlin’s web site, places it around the year 1915. Mason & Hamlin was founded by Henry Mason who was actually a direct descendent of the pilgrims of the Mayflower!
As to it’s mysterious origins, a so-called ‘street artist’ named HEK TAD took credit for it. Not until 2 weeks later when he tagged it with his spray painted logo all over it, did he lay claim. If you try to find photos of him, he is this skinny little kid, I sure hope he had plenty-a-help lifting that heavy baby grand over the 30″ gate and onto the beach and that tow truck musta been expen$ive. IF, if he indeed is responsible – he should have just left a sign taking credit, not destroying it’s melancholy beauty with his garish white spray paint markings. Many, including me, sought to paint over the markings and gladly finally someone did with what seemed to be some “oops paint” bought cheaply at hardware stores.
One of the last people to be photographed with the piano, is my friend and model Diana Amirova in an early morning photo shoot. I am so glad her beauty did it justice.
So finally now this proud 99 year old piano is giving up it’s ghost and surrendering to the mighty sea.
When I arrived this past Thursday to check on the piano, someone had left a floral memorial tribute to the beautiful graceful grande treasure from the past. Adieu, farewell, your songs played stay in our hearts.
The sea, the sea, calling out to you and me
Waves rush in to caress the sand
Only to roll out again
The sea, the sea, calmness in its water
But in one fowl swoop
The clam has tourned sour…
by Lillian B. Rose
Mason and Hamlin piano in East River under Brooklyn Bridge
Photo of the day: MUSIC MAKES ME HIGH – ♫♪♪♪♫♫ The ethereal effect of music is to make one feel is if you are floating on air. Listen closely to sounds of the sea or Mozart, are you floating yet?
Photo of the day: EBB TIDE CONCERTO – The most talked about piano in New York is not Billy Joel’s, Liberace’s or Elton John’s – it’s the old Mason and Hamlin piano that mysteriously appeared on the East River shore of the Brooklyn Bridge sometime last week. At high tide the piano is almost completely submerged, at low tide it has become quite a tourist and photographer’s attraction. Who knew something so simple, old and decrepit could cause so much fun?!
Mason & Hamlin was founded by Henry Mason who was a direct descendent of the pilgrims of the Mayflower – so it is somewhat cyclical that this piano winds up in the Atlantic Ocean. There are three main theories as to how this heavy baby grand piano landed in the river: 1) It was used for a photo shoot and was just too heavy and old to remove afterwards. 2) It was a garbage dump since some locals claim they say it tossed on it’s side just by the river walkway’s gate. 3) My friend Marie Flageul has the best theory as to it’s origin. She is convinced it is the piano from the Sequoia Restaurant that was part of South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 that is now disgracefully and disrespectfully being torn down. It could not have been snatched from the dumpsters since they are all guarded behind closed gates, so . . . was it construction workers in a humorous mood?
We will never know. Both the Sanitation Department, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Parks Department all claim it is not their jurisdiction. The curiosity now remains how long it will take for the Atlantic ocean to claim it’s serenade to sea.
First the tide rushes in
Plants a kiss on the shore
Then rolls out to sea
And the sea is very still once more
So I rush to your side
Like the oncoming tide
With one burning thought
Will your arms open wide
At last we’re face to face
And as we kiss through an embrace
I can tell, I can feel
You are love, you are real
In the rain, in the dark, in the sun
Like the tide at its ebb
I’m at peace in the web
Of your arms
In 1854, two brilliant idealists, Henry Mason and Emmons Hamlin, founded the Mason & Hamlin Company in Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of American piano design and manufacturing. Although their backgrounds and interests were very different, the two men shared a common goal: to make the world’s finest musical instruments.
Henry Mason was a member of one of America’s oldest families—they were actually descendents of pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower. The Masons were renowned for their involvement in the arts. Henry Mason was a pianist and his brother, William, was one of America’s foremost classical pianists and composers.
Their father was the famous composer and educator Lowell Mason, a visionary who was the first to bring music into the public schools of America. He was also known throughout the world as a composer and publisher of hymns, and is often called the “father of American church music.” Henry Mason shared his father’s lifelong dedication to music.
Emmons Hamlin was not a musician, but instead a brilliant mechanic and inventor. While working at the melodeon factory of George A. Price and Company of Buffalo, Hamlin invented a way to voice organ reeds, so that they could imitate the sound of a clarinet, violin or other musical instruments.
Hamlin developed his discovery to perfection, and in 1854, he and Henry Mason formed their company for the purpose of manufacturing a new musical instrument that they called the “organ harmonium.”