When your Chopin is so virtuosic that a grand piano string explodes.

9 March 2021, 14:52

When a grand piano string explodes...
When a grand piano string explodes... Picture: YouTube/Heinz Lengersdorf Pianoteacher Klavierlehrer

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

*covers ears*

You’ve heard of violin strings snapping mid-performance.

Now, get ready to watch a grand piano string fly off its pin, like an over-exerted elastic band.

The video below, seen over 100,000 times on YouTube, shows German classical pianist Heinz Lengersdorf playing some virtuosic Chopin with panache.

But when Lengersdorf reaches his Bechstein piano’s resonant lower register, one of the bass strings escapes from the cast-iron frame, shooting off like a firecracker.

Despite the keyboard malfunction, the pianist continues with his performance of the G minor ballade. The show must go on… (watch below).

Read more: Watch the most intensely funny fails in classical music >

PIANO STRING Explosion while playing Chopin

While it makes a great video, it’s not that uncommon for piano strings to break. It’s usually down to wear-and-tear, and playing the instrument with a little too much fervour.

And unlike on a violin or viola, it’s the bass strings on a grand piano that are more likely to suddenly snap.

The strings get longer as the pitch lowers, meaning the bass strings can be up to two metres long. Stretch them tightly over a cast-iron frame, play to your heart’s content and one day, they’ll probably tell you they’ve had enough.

Read more: What makes a Blüthner piano sound so special? >

Lengersdorf is a chamber musician and music teacher, who was the first German pianist to record three transcriptions by the great Russian-born virtuoso Vladimir Horowitz (‘The Stars and Stripes’, Carmen Variations and Liszt’s 19th Hungarian Rhapsody).

Today, he lives in Hanover and teaches at the city’s music school.

Guess he’ll need to go Chopin soon for a spare string…