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Making Music in Every Key

A Steinway is resurrected in the North End


In the slide show above, Johannes Hirn (COM10) takes us through the rebuilding of a Steinway grand piano.

When most of us think of the North End, we conjure candlelit dinners, gelato, and pastries. But history shows that the neighborhood has thrived on craftsmanship longer than on food and romance, each wave of immigrants — Irish, Jewish, and most recently, Italian — bringing expertise from the old country along with their dreams.

The North Bennet Street School has taught such craftsmanship since 1885. Within these walls, generations have learned how to repair a violin, bind a book, fashion furniture and jewelry, even rebuild a grand piano.

That last item makes North Bennet unique; no other school in the country offers a full-time course in piano reconstruction. In the slide show above, Johannes Hirn (COM’10) explores one of the most creative interiors to be found in the picturesque streets of the North End.

Johannes Hirn produced a radio version of this piece for the Advanced Radio Reporting class of Anne Donohue, a College of Communication associate professor of journalism. It first aired May 17 on WBUR, BU’s National Public Radio station, as part of a series of student-produced stories called Made in Massachusetts. The images in the slide show were shot by Hirn for the Advanced Photojournalism class of Peter Southwick, a COM associate professor, and edited by Edward A. Brown. Special thanks to WBUR producer Matt Largey for his assistance.

Edward A. Brown can be reached at ebrown@bu.edu.


One Comment on Making Music in Every Key

  • kcornuelle on 06.19.2009 at 2:05 pm

    great story

    It makes me want to build something… maybe not a piano… Great work, Johannes.

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