A Steinway grand, a Model A, 6 feet 2 inches long, which carries the serial number 87592, making it the 87,592nd piano since the company began--making pianos in the family kitchen.
The item in question: an 1897 Steinway donated by Rose Gershwin.
It began with Joseph B. Tallmadge, a pianist and organist active in 1914 who played weddings and funerals and taught the sticks to students.
One of his students, according to Richard N. Burke, a Hunter professor of music history, claims that one of Tallmadge's students was Donald Jay Grout, who ultimately became the chairman of the music department at Cornell University.
The trail runs cold here, and the piano falling into the laps of the Gershwins remains a mystery in and of itself.