Story behind mystery piano in the woods is revealed

SHORELINE, Wash. -- The mystery behind a piano that someone placed carefully in the woods north of Seattle has been solved.

Since the weekend of August 2nd, the piano has been charming joggers, hikers and school kids who happen upon it in Shoreview Park near Boeing Creek in Shoreline. The console-style piano is carefully perched above a ravine and leveled between two massive Douglas fir trees that suggest a cathedral-like surrounding.

One jogger said the sound of the keys resonates through the trees.

That the mystery piano is horribly out of tune doesn't seem to stop people from plinking its keys.

Hidden under the lid is an aging business card from a piano tuner with handwritten notations on it "January 7, 2012." That tuner told KOMO 4 News he has fastidious records that show the piano was owned at the time by Joey Odenberger of West Seattle. Odenberger said that he offered it for free on CraigsList several months ago.

Who got the free piano next? Gina Matassa did.

"It was unbearably out of tune," said Matassa, who also lives in West Seattle.

She loved her free piano anyway. Her mother is well-known jazz singer Greta Matassa, who knows music well. Together, they determined the piano was beyond repair.

"And so I paid to have it hauled off - to a dump, I assume, or wherever pianos go," Matassa said. "And then I heard that it was in a park!"

What did she think when she saw photos of her piano in the forested park?

"I thought 'that's great!' But I hope I'm not in trouble!" she said.

She's not. But what about the piano haulers who put it there?

We went to their address to find out more. What was their motivation. Was it purely to save money by not taking the piano to the garbage dump?

Helge Carlsen came to the door of the blue house in Shoreline.

"Are you the guy who hauled it?" we asked.

"My son is," conceded Carlsen with a touch of sheepishness. He explained he was as surprised as anyone.

Carlsen says he's a piano collector with an enormous appreciation for the instrument and a warehouse full of them. He said he saw the KOMO 4 story earlier and then mentioned it to his son.

"I just said 'I wonder who put that out there.' You know, I didn't know. And then he said 'we did!'" said Carlsen, suggesting his son shares his love of pianos. "I thought it was a cool idea."

His son, Kaare, told us on the phone he and two friends used their all-terrain dolly to take the piano into the woods where people could enjoy it in a spiritual setting. He said it pains him to see pianos go to the garbage dump.

"Well, there's a big problem with pianos going to dumps these days," he said.

He hopes someday to use piano parts to make art so at least some of the old pianos can live on, and that was the inspiration behind his piano caper; a final hurrah for one piano.

"And be enjoyed one last time," he said.

Of course, eventually the piano will become litter. But the Carlsen's vow to haul it back out of the park long before it loses its integrity.

The City of Shoreline Parks Department, which has an officially sanctioned "pianos in the parks" initiative, was charmed that it had inspired Carlsen's piano hijinks. And they are equally charmed that he intends to eventually remove the piano too.