One-of-a-Kind Piano Inspired by Thoreau’s Walden Purchased by Marlborough Couple
The “Walden Woods” piano, a Steinway & Sons grand piano inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s seminal 1854 work, has been purchased by a Marlborough couple and will reside in a private home for the first time.
The Walden Woods Project, led by Eagles drummer Don Henley, commissioned the piano in 2007 as a way to raise awareness for conservation efforts at Walden Pond, where the transcendentalist lived and worked for two years, two months, and two days in seclusion. Artist Silas Kopf designed the piano, fashioning wood inlays depicting local flora and Thoreau himself using wood indigenous to Walden Woods and other areas of New England.
Along with autographs by Elton John, Billy Joel, Dave Brubeck, and Herbie Hancock, the piano features an oft-quoted passage from Walden, which neatly sums it up: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Philanthropist Brian David Stevens purchased the Walden Woods piano as a 50th birthday gift for his wife Kathryn, who intends to use it to help raise money for charitable organizations benefiting those with disabilities, especially the Special People Special Needs Foundation. The couple, whose daughter Samantha Marcia Stevens has Down syndrome, donated $2.5 million to the Special Olympics of Massachusetts in 2011 for major improvements to the organization’s facilities.
“We both appreciate one-of-a-kind pieces, and we were thrilled to learn that this iconic piano was available for purchase. We are always trying to raise awareness for children’s charities,” Brian David Stevens said in a release. “The addition of this beautiful Steinway piano will make it possible for us to invite musicians and artists to perform in our home in Marlborough, as well as at local events. Massachusetts has a great tradition of philanthropy which we intend to perpetuate and grow.”