The Greatbatch School of Music was recently gifted with a new piano. New to the college, at least. A beautiful 1883 Steinway Piano was donated to the college by Florence Bush, an idea suggested to Bush by a friend, mentee, and Houghton graduate, Linda Palmer ’81. According to a recent Houghton press release, Florence, known as “Flossy” to friends and family, was “searching for a new residence for her beloved ‘baby.’” She had one condition when searching for a new home for her piano though, “that her square Steinway box piano be aptly cared for yet ‘stay alive’ and not be relegated to a storeroom or back corner.” Palmer suggested she donate the piano to Houghton’s Greatbatch School of Music, a top-notch program. What makes the piano even more special to Houghton is the sharing of birth years: both the college and the piano were founded in 1883.
The piano was purchased by Bush’s great-grandparents, and had been in her family for 130 years. Bush has used the piano all her life, from practicing singing and playing when she was a girl, to sharing with her own family, for 88 years. Bush was always interested in music, and her piano was a huge part of her life. She also has a connection to Houghton through William Newbrough, professor of piano and Distinguished Steinway Artist, who helped to donation become a reality.
According to Armenio Suzano, dean and director of the Greatbatch School of Music, the piano “serves as both a reminder and a signal to all of us. A reminder that we live in a continuum and that history is made everyday, though our actions, our choices, and the contributions we make to the community around us.” He continued, “It is also a signal to alert all of us of the important role Houghton College and the Greatbatch School of Music play in the future of music education in western New York and around the country.”
Emma Donmoyer ’19, a music major, is very excited about the addition of the Steinway piano at Houghton. “The piano is in good condition for its age,” she said. “While it’s past the point of being in perfect tune, it’s still very playable and has a nice touch.” Donmoyer also expressed her love of old pianos, and said, “Every piano has a story, and playing on older instruments reminds me of the wonderful and rich musical history I am blessed to be a part of. I’m very glad we’re able to have this beautiful old piano alongside new ones.”
The addition of this historical piano maintains the importance of classical music and tradition at Houghton. The Houghton press release also stated, “As the college embraces music industry and worship arts while maintaining its existing classical approach, a new type of student emerges: one well-versed in both traditional and modern methods and who is innovative, passionate and unafraid to adapt to whatever life brings.”
Bush was “delighted to find such a fitting home,” and she will be happy to know that the piano is in good care and will be well played for many years to come.