R-P Schools to receive Steinway Grand Piano

Pictured is the late Sandy Myhro along with her husband Alan Pearlman. Myhro’s family recently donated her Steinway Grand Piano to the Rushford-Peterson music department after her passing.
By : 
Scott Bestul

The Rushford-Peterson music department will get a significant boost later this month, when a Steinway & Sons Grand Piano arrives at the door. The Steinway, once owned by 1972 Rushford High School graduate Sandy Myhro, was recently donated to R-P schools by Myhro’s widower, Alan Pearlman. Myhro, a gifted pianist and music lover, died suddenly in December 2017, when she was just 63 years old.

“Sandy’s love for music defined her,” said Steve Myhro, Sandy’s younger brother. “Her dream was to one day have enough money to buy a Steinway piano, and she was thrilled to realize that dream. And now, I know she’d be thrilled that her favorite instrument would continue to be enjoyed by others.”

According to her father, Luther “Lupy” Myhro, Sandy’s passion for music was evident early in her life. “She was seven or eight years old when she wanted to start playing piano,” Lupy said.  “At that time we just bought a cheap $40 piano, to see if she was really serious. Well it didn’t take long to realize she was pretty serious. Even as a young girl, she was practicing for at least an hour a day, and as she got better, we decided we’d better get a better instrument for her.”

Sandy’s talent and hard work soon had her playing in venues far beyond the Myhro living room. “Her first teacher was Sheila Rislove, who was very good and taught her a lot,” Lupy recalled. “But it wasn’t long before Sandy couldn’t learn any more from her, and had to find another teacher in Winona. By the time she was in high school, she was playing clarinet in the school band, plus accompanying many groups and singers on piano. When she was 14 years old, our church (Rushford Lutheran) needed an organist, so she stepped in and learned the organ, and was the church organist for four years until her graduation.”

After graduating from Rushford High School, Sandy attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, to major in music. “At that time, Luther didn’t have much of a music program, and after two years, one of the instructors took her aside and suggested she transfer to a school that could offer her more. Sandy loved Luther and always felt bad that she didn’t graduate from there, but she knew the instructor was right. So she transferred to the University of Iowa.”

Sandy graduated from Iowa in 1976 with a music major and a business minor and, in addition to her coursework, she held part-time jobs with an insurance company and a hotel. While working at the hotel she met Alan Pearlman, an engineer from New York traveling on business. The two would fall in love, marry and settle in New York, where Sandy would land a job with Frenkel & Co., an insurance brokerage firm. Alan shared Sandy’s love of music; the couple even took a college course in jazz, and held season tickets to Carnegie Hall, where they enjoyed listening to some of the world’s finest musicians.

Her tireless work ethic and warm personality made Sandy a perfect fit for the company. “She traveled all over the U.S. and Europe as her responsibilities grew,” Lupy recalled. “Sandy made a very good living; by the end of her career she was Senior Vice-President of their Global Services Division. And she and Allan didn’t have any children, so she finally had saved enough money so she could buy the piano she’s always dreamed of having.”

It took some shopping to find a Steinway, but Sandy eventually found one, a model made in 1915. “It was the grand piano she’d been wanting for forever,” Steve said. “It needed to be tuned and have some restoration work done, but she found the right person to do that. Finally the piano was in their home and she could play whenever she wanted. Of course she was very busy with work and didn’t have a lot of time, but whenever friends or family would visit, or they’d host a party, Sandy would play the Steinway.”   

Both Sandy and Alan were planning for retirement, and contemplating a move to Rushford, when tragedy struck. “I talked to Sandy every Sunday evening, and our last call she said she’d been feeling a little off,” Lupy recalled. “That night a blood clot in her leg broke loose and traveled to her heart.”

Stunned by the shock of their loss, Alan and Sandy’s family (Steve, who lives in Rochester, Minn., swapped texts with Sandy daily, and she viewed his three children like her own), had plenty to think about besides the fate of a Steinway piano. But eventually the practical matter of what to do with the instrument could no longer be ignored. While Lupy suggested donating the piano, parting with something so dear to Sandy was not easy. “We were all really torn,” Steve admits. “And at first Alan said ‘No way I’m giving that up.’ But eventually we had a conversation and I said to him ‘The beautiful voice of that piano needs to be shared.’ And in the end he agreed, and did what I think Sandy would have wanted.”

Steve said the Steinway has been shipped from the Pearlman home on Long Island, and is expected to arrive around the 20th of September.