A piano falls victim to Philadelphia riot

A piano falls victim to Philadelphia riot


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2020

This was the scene last night outside a Steinway dealer in Philadelphia.


  • John Borstlap says:

    Obviously, it was the colour of the piano that provoked the protesters.

    It’s the first time that musical instruments are treated racially.

    • batonbaton says:

      in the current climate, that is so insensitive of you. racism is no joke!

      • er says:

        oh lighten up….Jesus…

      • Eric Rand says:

        Batonbaton, don’t worry! No one knows who you are so there’s no need to virtue signal here…you can relax and have a laugh.

        You know – people can simultaneously loathe racism AND loathe wanton property destruction

        • John Borstlap says:

          That’s what I entirely agree with. There seems to be no real connection between protesting against racism and plundering and vandalising shops.

          • Jess says:

            Ebony and Ivory. Gheesh.

          • Erik says:

            A peaceful protest would barely make the news, and would definitely achieve nothing. What are oppressed people to do? Just have a nice peaceful protest, go home before curfew, and next day get gunned down or choked by police I suppose. “At least they didn’t break any pianos” we will all say.

          • Tamino says:

            Yeah? I suppose Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi would disagree.

          • Andy says:

            Martin Luther King said “A riot is the language of the unheard.”

          • Ellie says:

            Can I just say, this is a brilliant comment. A big reason why many anti-racist/anti-discrimination laws were passed in the 20th century was due to protests and riots. For example, the Stonewall riots in 1969. These riots marked the first EVER gay pride. I thank God they smashed a few windows, otherwise I wouldn’t have the rights I have today as a young gay woman. Maybe in 50 years, we will look back at these events and be thankful that these brave protestors were willing to smash a few pianos and break a few windows in order to make their voices heard. <3

          • Nijinsky says:

            Oh really? There’s no connection between rioting and protesting racism, so why do you bring it up? What kind of distraction does it serve as? That’s like saying there’s no connection between demolishing a country in a questionable war and when it’s destabilized for further exploitation, negating that that might have something to do with the rise of extremism; not that the extremism is a protest, it’s cause and effect, and that is connection. Then ridiculing the extremism rather than giving people a place to go instead, nor pointing out how that might have existed (someplace to go instead).

            That’s a real easy way of avoiding the real issue or tending to it.

            Don’t do that, do this, and then you don’t have to see what you’re doing anymore, you’re so sure of it, it’s so “safe”. The way you tick off at any form of art that doesn’t particularly ameliorate your own methods or ideology, it makes me wonder what we would see from you would you have gone through the life or walked in the moccasins of whoever was the cause of this piano that wasn’t alive enough to end up any more dead than it was beforehand, in contrast to what sparked the riots. None of us knows that thinking we’re “superior.” In fact none of us know what we would do in either position of having lived a life disabled by racism, or being expected to police people’s behavior with the accepted methods of wielding fear and trauma as deterrent.

            And then there are people that don’t respond in such a way, but I don’t think their expression is based on some method excusing whatever they do by moralism or some mechanized fabrication of logic that’s mental enough to fool one into believing it holds, nor do they create peace with what they’re left with and can’t escape, by ridiculing and entertaining themselves to call it humor.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Some people simply lack social conscience. They, of course, they counter about our lack of a sense of humour. Empathy cannot be taught.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          Or they have a social conscience that involves personal improvement, responsibility, respect for property and law and order. Foreign to the Left, I know. So comprehensively brainwashed have they become that they now provide a threat to all of us.

          Let me let you into a little secret; you got Trump and all his dreadful behaviour precisely because the people know HE’LL say what you prevent others from saying.

      • Aleximkr says:

        Yes, we must stamp out all vestiges of humour at all costs.

      • David says:

        You fool racism is not the issue, they are venting frustration as they have the intellect of a boiled potato.

    • annnon says:

      haw haw Zwarte Piet.

    • Nick says:

      You bet you’re right: ANTIFA + BLM

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Jacobs Music on Chestnut near 18th in Philadelphia. 2 blocks from the Curtis Institute of Music.

    The definition of gratuitous violence which only detracts from the real message of the death of George Floyd. I can think of better ways to get the true message across.


    • John Kelly says:

      Thank you Mr. Fitzpatrick for posting this link. It is extraordinarily moving…….if we’re not moved we’re part of the problem. So what do we all do?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Perhaps the message could come across from one of the successful African Americans, like Oprah or a bevvy of Hollywood actors. Better still, some really savvy back guy in an Armani suit working out of Washington. Or Madison Avenue.

    • Marc says:

      Has any sort of societal or governmental change been enacted by musical performances in the past, such as these by Anthony McGill and Noah Bendix-Bagley? Yes, artists use their platforms in the way that they can, but when has that gotten the government, Americans, the rest of the world to sit up and pay attention? How long ago did peaceful protest enact change? Is property even as valuable as a Steinway grand more valuable than a person’s right to life or their safety, especially in a country like the USA, where millions can’t feel safe sleeping in their own beds, walking around their neighborhoods, or being in the same vicinity as law enforcement that is supposed to keep us safe? We sit at home through a pandemic, keeping up to date on what Yuja’s wearing, which conductor is adding a third orchestra, and who will be streamed next. Meanwhile, a whole population of Americans live in constant fear of a police state, a leader unleashing the military domestically, and death by a nonchalant knee. In this violence, I don’t think anyone who has stayed at home or any bystanders have been hurt, while peaceful protestors and press members have been arrested, shot, silenced. The outbursts are regrettable, but have been inevitable. With the destruction of insured property, at the very least now the world is paying attention.


  • Lockdown Paradox says:

    This is what happens when you lockdown tour society for two months, lay off 25 percent of the work force and close all schools. The paradox of lockdowns and public protest/rioting is what we are now watching.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The irony is that such mass demonstrations are perfect places for the virus to spread, requiring more lockdowns.

      • The Herd is Alive says:

        The upside might be herd immunity is achieved sooner rather than later.

      • Nick says:

        However, the authorities seem not to care much!!! The peaceful Rabbi’s funeral in Brooklyn was harshly disturbed by police, but Antifa + BLM can do whatever they want. It’s called American Justice!

  • frank says:

    The Philadelphia Inquirer, our local newspaper, is still calling the looters protesters and trying to understand their motivations. In Philadelphia the inmates have been running the asylum for many years; here is the result.

    • John Borstlap says:

      “I’m very angry because someone who happened to be black, was senselessly killed by police. Therefore I’m smashing the windows of this shop and take whatever I can, to express my grief and indignation about such phenomenal injustice.”

      Is it me, or is there indeed something wrong with these kind of reactions?

      • G says:

        Black people in America have been demonstrably, wantonly killed by white police for decades, and no one has done anything about it. If the cops can routinely take part in such serious crime without much being said or done about it, it’s odd that certain members of the public would only get so angry about the other people deciding to break the law too. At any rate, murder isn’t equivalent to looting.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Bravo. Obvious to anyone of us with even a quarter of a human brain.

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Why? I don’t understand why this in the self-declared “leader of the Free World”?

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    Horrifying, but at least it was the crappy pianos.

  • Abby says:

    They’ve gone too far!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The philistines are through the gates.

  • Alan Roberts says:

    That’s not a piano. That’s some sort of electric appliance.

  • Tamino says:

    That’s how looting by the poor looks like. Smashed windows etc.
    The much more common and dangerous looting by the rich looks different and is often almost invisible on the surface.

  • Cefranck says:

    Knowing who the owner is of that piano store (Jacob’s Music), all I can say is, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  • Gerald Martin says:

    It looks like that heavy and cumbersome piano was somehow lugged out of the store, dumped, then defiled with graffiti. That’s a lot of hate.