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Piano Fans, Take Note --of a D.C. Exhibit

March 05, 2000

The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., is rolling out two dozen of its most prized pianos, from a collection that includes 250 pianos and keyboards, for a retrospective on the instrument's 300-year history.

"Piano 300: Celebrating Three Centuries of People and Pianos" opens Thursday and runs through March 4, 2001, at the Smithsonian National Gallery, across the National Mall from the Museum of American History. Highlights include a 1722 piano created by Bartolomeo Cristofori--one of only three by the inventor and keeper of instruments for Italy's Medici family that are known to exist; a 1940 custom upright made for composer Irving Berlin and fitted with a special transposing lever; and a 1984 rhinestone-encrusted Baldwin grand designed for--who else?--Liberace.

Composers' manuscripts, tools, playbills and other memorabilia are also in the exhibit. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Tel. (202) 357- 2700.

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