A grand piano is, as its name suggests, a grand sight to behold, but one teenager’s colossal creation surpasses the grandeur of even the most impressive stringed star.
At almost 19 feet long, the Alexander Piano is one of the largest pianos in the world. Adrian Mann began constructing the musical wonder, which he named after his great-great-grandfather, when he was just 15 years old.
He got the idea to build the instrument in 2004, after stumping his teacher with his question about how long brass strings would have to be to create the correct notes if they weren’t wrapped in their usual copper wire. When his teacher couldn’t give him an answer, he set out to find out for himself.
Mann completed his mission in 2009, at age 20. The piano clocks in at an impressive 18 3/4 feet, which is more than twice as large as a typical concert grand. Creating the enormous instrument was a group effort: neighbors and friends provided spaces to build it, and others helped by donating money, timber, and tools.
The piano toured New Zealand for a while, where it made appearances in shipping terminals, churches, schools, and even at the Otago Museum. Amateur musicians and professionals alike have tickled its keys. But now, after its many stints on the road, the piano has come home to Mann’s workshop in Dunedin. It arrived with a fire department escort in September of 2017 and has remained available for the public to admire ever since.