This is the first day of my post-Hawaiian life. And something quite unexpected happened at a most unlikely place.

Did you ever think you would see a $150,000-product on sale at Costco?

Never in a million years, right?

Well, today I did. And not just saw one. I actually played it.

In the world of music, the Bösendorfer pianos are what the Rolls Royce cars are in the auto industry. Top-of-the-line products in all respects, including the highest prices.

When we lived in Hawaii, before I bought my Steinway concert grand, we had traveled to Honolulu just for a chance to play a Bösendorfer (see the two shots). You can see below an excerpt from that story which – amazingly (!) – unfolded actually exactly 7 years ago (Mar 11, 2010).

Back to Scottsdale Costco this afternoon, I was stunned to see 5 of the Bösendorfers on display, ranging in prices from $110,000 to $150,000. A nice Japanese gentleman you can see in my photo also happens to be a pianist. So he invited me to try one.

I played two of them – the $140,000 and the $150,000-models. As soon as I started Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca (Turkish March), a crowd gathered around me. (But I did not know that until I finished playing and heard the applause).

I then played Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” including my own improvisations. The same thing happened… crowd, applause.

When I got up to leave, two ladies asked for an encore. This time, I played two variations from Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Paganini Theme.” An even louder and longer applause followed.

So don’t let anybody tell you that Costco shoppers are not culturally enlightened. One gentleman came over and said, “Bösendorfer should hire you to sell their pianos.”

“You are very kind,” I replied. “Thank you. But I don’t play to make money.”

Music is a passion for me which I am happy to share it for free with any audience that appreciates it. Like Kokopelli. Or Liszt.


“Elizabeth also surprised me when she took a picture of me playing on a true gem – a white 175-anniversary Bosendorfer piano adorned with 9,000 crystals (right). There are only three such instruments in the world. You don’t want to know the price.

But that was not the best piano I played. The best one was the black one which Ashkenazy also played (display model). Its keyboard had an incredible feathery touch, making you feel as if the fingers were playing themselves. And its sound brought tears to my eyes. Long notes seemed to reverberate forever. Soft tones soaked in deep inside the soul. The music seemed to come straight from the heavens. I felt as if God were speaking to me directly through this magnificent piano. In all the decades of playing various pianos, I have never experienced anything like it. Every time I would try out another instrument, I would be drawn back to that “black monster.” (see

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