Le Méridien Xiamen, China | Gulangyu Piano Museum
Given Gulangyu’s musical heritage, it is no surprise that Mr. Hu Youyi chose his ancestral home for Asia’s largest piano museum, which now has over 100 pianos from the U.K., France, the U.S., Germany, Austria, and Australia, as well as over 100 priceless piano lamps.
The Gulangyu Piano Museum’s two halls are set within the tropical flowers and trees of a 2,000 square meter tract of land on the hill overlooking Shuzhuang Garden and the sea. A perfect way to finish a tour of the museum is to sit on one of the piano benches before the ceiling-to-floor plate glass windows and savor the scenery while listening to piped in classical piano pieces.
The collection includes a French street musician's barrel piano, the Broadwood & Sons piano that won a golden medal at the Paris International Fair, a grand piano with ivory keys from an English palace, and a piano cherished by president Lincoln.
The first of the two halls opened January of 2000, and has the collection’s oldest piano. Although few pianos are actually built by pianists, this instrument was crafted in 1801 by visionary composer Muzio Clementi (1752-1832). Clementi crafted both uprights and grands on which to perform his more than 106 sonatas (46 were for violin, cello or flute), as well as countless smaller pieces.
Hall #1 also has the world’s tallest upright piano (an 1824 Broadwood & Sons, from London), and Hall No. 2 showcases the development of the piano with exhibits like the 1928 Haines. The most expensive piano of its era, this American marvel was completely automatic, able to perfectly imitate the styles of many well known pianists.