Budapest, Hungary Next: London, England
In Budapest, FAPE’s work at the Embassy Residence helped to honor an era of Hungary’s musical history. Many of the furnishings in the residence once belonged to turn-of-the-century composer Jenö Hubay. Perhaps the most treasured is a cherrywood Bösendorfer boudoir grand pianoforte, with swan supports and a case defined by Greek-style floral and key borders. Lourana Swift Thomas, wife of the U.S. Ambassador from 1990 to 1994 and herself a professional pianist, saw the need to restore the piano, noting its poor tonal quality, earlier inferior repairs, and worn-out mechanisms.
Mrs. Thomas and the State Department agreed to apply FAPE’s donation toward hiring an instrument restorer from the Hungarian National Museum. The museum made an offer which the State Department accepted: a restorer would repair the piano at a reduced cost if it were classified a Hungarian National Treasure. The museum would include the piano on its list of national treasures and inspect it annually. If the government ever wanted to sell the instrument, the museum would have first right of purchase.