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. 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.”


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