Steinway Hall has the ponderous stillness of a funeral home

Word count: 236 words

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I read widely, watch movies and listen to the radio. Here, catch an interesting piece of figurative language I’ve encountered recently, which comes from a New Yorker article describing Steinway Hall.

I remember exploring Steinway Hall’s quiet corridors about two years ago, when my husband, son and I were visiting Manhattan. The architecture — not to mention the plethora of pianos — nonplussed us. It was like wandering through a dream: at once surreal and strangely practical.

Thus, when I read an Oct. 22 John Seabrook article in the New Yorker — a story on American folk signer-songwriter Iris Dement — I knew exactly what Seabrook meant when he used the following image:

Steinway Hall has the ponderous stillness of a funeral home, and the grand pianos are like polished caskets.

That captures it perfectly! It’s exactly like a funeral home. The quiet voices. The plushly carpeted floor. The waxy smell of furniture polish. The respectful staff. I hadn’t before seen the connection between caskets and pianos, but that, too, makes an odd kind of sense. I suddenly remembered that my son — the kind of fluent pianist who has never met an audience he didn’t like — outright refused to sit at one of the pianos and play.

I guess that’s the kind of reluctance that displays itself in a funeral home.

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