Local places classic Schumann piano in family pasture
While driving into town on Ranch Road 965, residents and tourists alike will be stunned by the beautiful rolling hills, pastures and animal life in the Texas Hill Country — and a Schumann piano.
That’s right. Albert Holzscheiter set out the classic piano on the side of his in-laws’ pasture.
“I just did a bunch of work on the ranch across the street. So, I thought since I was in everybody’s good graces, now it was time to kind of pull a stunt,” he joked.
The piano originally belonged to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, where Holzscheiter attended for decades. He recalls several memories of the instrument.
“I would play Van Hagar or something, and this guy, Frank Campbell, he used to play jazz on it,” Holzscheiter said. “At my sister’s wedding reception, I played a song for her on it. That’s the kind of things it was used for.”
But the piano was nearing its final days at the church. As proof, the church determined it would not be used during a jazz service to be played by the famous Jim Cullum and his band, visiting Dixieland jazz artists from San Antonio.
“The piano wasn’t in good enough shape for Jim’s band to use,” he said.
So nearly 20 years ago, the late Stan Shannon, who worked with the church, wanted to send the piano to a place where it would be used.
“I said I’d take it, he said he would charge me $100, I was insulted and I was cheap,” Holzscheiter said. “I thought, since I was doing like 10 hours a week of volunteer time and I knew it needed about $5,000 worth of work, he should just give it me.”
They didn’t like that idea, but they still needed to get rid of the instrument. Shannon called Bill Smallwood, a local musician and piano tuner, to haul off the piano.
“So, Bill’s son, Will, who is my best friend, said, ‘Hey, Al, come help us move the piano. We’re taking it to your house,’ and I told him sure,” Holzscheiter said.
Holzscheiter had played the piano with his family over the years, but after a while, it needed too many repairs. He also recently acquired another piano from another church that was in much better shape.
“So, I’ve had a piano on my porch and one in the living room,” he said. “I liked this one better, but this is the one that needed all of the work.”
So, Holzscheiter decided to pull a prank on his in-laws by putting it on their property. He chose this area because it would be easy to see from the road.
“This is the nicest spot to see the sunset, and people have been stargazing here,” Holzscheiter said. “It’s already near my mother-in-law’s place, so I decided to put it near my sister-in-law’s place so they can enjoy the annoyance, as well.”
The strange sight could become a roadside oddity like Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch. Some people on the way to Enchanted Rock have posed outside the fence with the piano in the background.
He also hopes people use it as a way to take their minds off of local political issues, such as the Relief Route and the Permian Highway Pipeline.
For Holzscheiter, these types of practical jokes have been a way for him to stay exciting during his nearly 15 years of sobriety.
“When I got sober, I didn’t want to be the lame type of sober person that often happens to some people,” he said. “These practical jokes show that I’m still sober.”
Holzscheiter wanted to note that while he thinks it’s great when people come to look at the piano and take in the sunset, he hopes people are respectful of the property.
“These are fun, little things and I think it’s great that people come out here,” he said. “But there are animals out here and this is peoples’ livelihood, so please keep your stereos down, don’t litter and be respectful of the properties out here.”