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After 2 years, the return of the annual BSO piano sale

by Stephen N. Reed

In September, the leaves start to come out across New England, as do the shrewd piano buyers who have waited patiently for the annual Boston Symphony Orchestra piano sale, partnering with Steinway & Sons and M. Steinert & Sons of Boston and Newton.

This year’s sale is by appointment only and will run from Friday, September 17 through Sunday, September 19 at Symphony Hall in Boston.

Due to the pandemic, last year’s sale was canceled. However, this popular, annual BSO event is back with a head of steam, making up for lost time.  Now in its 18th year, this unique sale will again give piano buyers a chance to purchase lightly-used, well-maintained Steinway pianos at a significant discount.  Best of all, a portion of the proceeds goes directly to support the BSO.

“For piano buyers, the BSO, and our relationship with Steinway, it’s a great opportunity to support the quality of pianos at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood,” said Christopher W. Ruigomez, Director of Concert Operations for the BSO.

Traditionally, this annual piano sale has included several Festival pianos used at the BSO’s summer home at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s piano selection will be drawn from Symphony Hall’s inventory of Steinway pianos, as well as new and used Steinway models from M. Steinert & Sons.

New Steinways at a discount this year

The Higginson Room at Symphony Hall gets filled with pianos of every finish, size and type.

As a result, this year, piano buyers can get a sizable discount on several new Steinways.

Despite the change, this year with M. Steinert Sons directly supplying more pianos for the sale, the company’s president, Brendan Murphy, said that this year’s event will continue to benefit the BSO.

“Through partnering with the BSO over many years, we are proud to contribute a portion of the proceeds to their high-quality performances, music classes, and workshops with the piano over 90% of professional pianists prefer to play–Steinway,” said Murphy. “Smart buyers wait months for this sale and for good reason–these are some of the best Steinways available for both quality and price.”

Interesting facts about this event

Steinway & Sons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra have had a relationship since 1880, and this annual BSO sale began in 2002.  Since then, a wide variety of piano buyers have enjoyed some remarkable moments at the annual BSO sale.

Steinert & Sons’ president emeritus, Paul Murphy, recalls selling a piano one year that Steven Spielberg had signed at a Tanglewood concert celebrating the movie scores of former Boston Pops musical director John Williams, The famed film director and collaborator with Williams wrote “Steven Spielberg & E.T.”

“He wrote it on top of the piano lid, and at first we thought about removing it,” says Paul Murphy.  “But keeping it there added to its provenance.”

During another year, John Williams himself had autographed a piano, enhancing its value.

Interested buyers can view this year’s collection of pianos by making an appointment to visit Symphony Hall on the days of the sale.  Appointments can also be made by contacting M. Steinert & Sons at (617) 426-1900.


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