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If you're a pianist, you'll probably love reading this book If you're not a pianist, you'll probably still love reading it.August 2019 I read this eighteen years ago when it was published and just reread it It remains one of my favorite books And still deserves five stars.At one point, the author was walking home in Paris and heard loud piano music surging from an open window As I drew closer I recognized Beethoven's Diabelli Variations being played forcefully and with a strange urgency.… In my excitement I wanted to stop passersby and make them take notice: 'Hey, listen to this! This is a phenomenal Beethoven!'I guess that could only happen in Paris (or perhaps in a similar environment) It surely wouldn't occur in my neck of the woods.This book is filled with similar vignettes, which make it a delight to read.As I reached the conclusion of the book, I didn't want it to end I look forward to the next time I read it.Pianos, people, and Paris I couldn't ask for . A surprising little gem of a book which proves you really can't judge a book by its cover I read it looking for something different without thinking the subject matter would be very interesting Within just a few pages I found I was transported back to my time in Paris, exploring it's side streets, neighborhoods, and the wonderful (despite what you may have heard) people living there I've lent this book to 6 people since I read it and to a person they have all loved it Read this book! Piano Teacher: Not bad Mr Connors, you say this is your first lesson?Phil: Yes, but my father was a piano *mover*, soMuch like Thad Carhart passing by Desforges Pianos: outillage, fournitures, I was intrigued first by the lovely cover (the hardbound edition) and welcoming title of this book I wanted to enter through the curtained door, into a dusty world I did not know.Inside, we find des pianos éventrés (disemboweled pianos), and Luc who modestly says, Je ne suis qu'un bricoleur (I'm only a handyman) Luc finds pianos Steinways, Bechsteins, Chickerings, Pleyels and restores them Then he goes about finding the right human pair for the instrument Who will get the 1820 Erard, that Beethoven might have played?I do not speak French nor do I play the piano, but Carhart must have guessed that because he consistently translated the charming French phrases for me and he ably explained the inner workings of the furniture that also makes music.Carhart has a good ear:On ne fait pas de musique contre quelqu'un (One does not make music against someone else) Le jeu, c'est l'âme de la mécanique (Play is the soul of the machine).He quotes an Hungarian pianist and teacher, There is no such thing as music note by note just as there is no such thing as a book word by word We have to accept that things are ambiguous.He explained the mechanics enough and the differences in pianos He talked about his lifetime passion for pianos the instrument, really,so than the music itself And he takes us into the quartier, where Luc (not his real name) welcomes the American and, by extension, us You can learn a lot by watching how people interact with an alcoholic piano tuner Best for me was when the various characters students, teachers, craftsmen would meet, and someone would sit down at a piano, and.PLAY Bienvenu à la guinguette!I now want to hear a Fazioli piano Is that asking too much?And if I find myself wandering in a Parisian quartier, I too might open a mysterious door Tu as le temps de boire un coup? This book is a Valentine..a love letter to the most beloved piece of furniture you will ever own The piano There really is no particular plot here, just a memoir of selected incidents in the life of the author, who plays the piano strictly for the joy of it He is an American who has lived most of his life in Paris and is walking through his neighborhood when he sees a atelier with windows full of piano strings, fall boards, key boards, etc The sign says Deforges Pianos and he hears music issuing from the front door It takes him a few weeks before he decides to venture inside He makes friends with the owner, eventually buys an old Pleyel baby grand and it changes his life.He explains, rather well, the feelings aroused in the pianist when playing a classic instrument which is perfectly tuned and toned and has it's own quirks (and all pianos have quirks) Even instruments made by the same company and of the same age are different from each other.they have to be broken in and seasoned and, unfortunately, don't have a long life of perfection, And it must be tuned and played regularly or it will die of a broken heart.We meet those who hang out at the atelierall musicians who have their own distinctive ideas about what makes a piano special and who spend long evening hours with a bottle of wine discussing and having friendly arguments over a Bechstein vs Erard, a Steinway vs Chickering.This fascinating book will appeal to anyone who plays (I do but not very well) and also to those who don't but love hearing the beauty of tone and clarity of a Chopin waltz played on a fine instrument A short and enthralling little book about a piece of furniture that has a personality and a soul As you can probably tell, I loved this book.PS: I do have something in common with this author I cannot pass a piano in a hotel, conference center, etc with the fall board down I always lift it up to expose the keys (and usually get chastised)! The Piano Shop on the West Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier by Thad Carhart is small treasure, a somewhat limited but wonderful book in search of a broader audience, probably carried forth by wordofmouth recommendations from fellow readers In fact, I was delighted to find as many as 500 reviews at this site Carhart's book represents a most gentle exploration of music, with the focus on the evolution of keyboard instruments, serving as a historical backdrop on many composers; however, it also acts as a field guide to some rather interesting backstreets of Paris as well Often there is a historical declension of certain Parisian streets, neighborhoods specific buildings, explaining their various uses and transformations through the years The author forages about the streets byways of Paris, explaining in reference to one building that it seemed to embrace the past without being lost in it and of another that it exhibited a shabby gentility.Driven by curiosity and a keen sense of having lost something valuable when he ceased playing the piano ages ago and with that, a part of his own identity that needs to be reclaimed, Carhart fuses his passion for France particularly for Paris, with the discovery of a building that carries a most amazing past, commenting thatBenjamin Franklin had apparently spent some time within the (former) convent's walls, writing out the preamble to the American Constitution During the (French) Revolution, the convent was turned into a prison subsequently used as a cotton mill, then a preparatory school for the Ecole Polytechnique, until in 1896 it began its vocation as a private school for music, dance theatre Satie, Debussy, Albeniz Messiaen had all been associated with the latter school and its philosophy was consciously informal forwardlooking I particularly liked the rationale it advanced for renouncing the tradition of competitive concours: On ne fait pas de musique contre quelqu'un (One does not make music against someone else).The author catalogues a litany of pianos, including some still eminent brands such as Bechstein (German), Bosendoerfer (Austrian) Chickering (British) but also the all but forgotten Pleyel (French) an extraordinary, newly crafted Italian piano, the Fazioli, seemingly made with spaceage technology but very traditional values There is commentary on competing forms of keyboard other instrument mastery, with György Sebök, a gifted pianist also a committed teacher, at a masterclass the author attended in Amsterdam, intoning in reference to the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, that its graduates know everything but nothing else He stresses the importance of creating a sense of balance in life becauseIt is possible to know too much and one needs to accept that some things are ambiguous There is also a humorous quote from Oscar Wilde: I assure you that the typewriting machine, when played with expression, is notannoying than the piano when played by a sister or a nearrelation.The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is full of surprises a cast of characters within the inner sanctum at the piano shop that constitutes a memorable mélange of Parisians, including Luc the atelier owner Jos, a drunken virtually homeless piano tuner who often sleeps in vacant trains, only to alight in places far from home come morning Beyond that, an assortment of folks periodically appear who are almost magnetically drawn to the shop because of rumors that a new piano with a most mysterious provenance has just been bought at auction by the owner of the shop Here is just one exampleIn playing, the old man was changed utterly, transformed from a stooped body with a hesitant gait to a vigorous athlete who addressed the keyboard with a boundless urgency He was not sitting at the piano but was indivisible from it, his hands feet striking the keys pedals with a potent, sinuous force The piano, too, was transformed No delicate lines now, no strange decorum about the silent object: this was what it was meant to do.I don't play an instrument so some of the minute detailing of various vintage contemporary keyboard instruments was a bit beyond my grasp but I savored this book nonetheless and recommend it highly to anyone willing to provide it with some space in their imagination In an odd sort of way, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart is rather like a mystery story set in Paris, with the elusive search for pianos with captivating backgrounds serving as primary characters. I am hugely opinionated Also I am hopelessly a huge fan of the piano Hence this review will only read one way I dreamt of learning to play the piano from my school days when our choir teacher used to play it I found my way into the choir group only to see her play it and listen to the sound Later despite many attempts to learn to play it I could not succeed in school We did not live close to a place which had access to piano owners or teachers A few years ago I bought a Kawai upright and started to learn Pressures of travel during work and constant relocations to new cities put paid to my grand plan But the good news is that I am still at it And now withrigour Thad Carhart's story interested me in so many ways.For someone my age finding a patient teacher is a challenge This book speaks of the author almost in my stage of life commencing a new phase in life learning to becomeproficient on it And a lotabout pianos.Pianos and everything about them take me into another world of baroque and everything nice literally a fantastic world that had better remain that way or I may end up in a lunatic asylum In days of stress I end up running to classical piano on my earphones and this literally does its job in decompression The entire imagery of a piano is everything but that and the world it throws up I am very fortunate to have had a chance to see a few piano concerts in Europe and the US featuring Bosendorfers and Steinways.This book has a lot of prose about the history of the piano and its making Also about how the piano itself was constructed and maintained Carhart speaks of these things almost as living creatures Beethoven's piano was made from wood planted in the 16th century the trees were felled when they were about a 60 years old and then crafted The sound of this wood speaks of the sheer character of these pianos I loved the rideand will re read I guess as I travel my journey to playing near self respecting tunes on my piano and chord progressions that matter.Do you think I can say anything other than highly recommended ?!!! |READ DOWNLOAD ☻ The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier ☾ Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood Intrigued by its simple sign — Desforges Pianos — he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop's imperious ownerUnable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view Luc, the atelier's master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion Play Is The Soul Of The MachineIn this engaging memoir, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (2001), Thad Carhart, an American writer who lives in Paris, describes how his love for the piano was rekindled upon finding a quaint piano repair shop in Paris and its eccentric owner, Luc At one point after Carhart purchases a used piano from Luc, a baby grand made by a defunct manufacturer called Stingl, Carhart learns that he needs to make a repair to the instrument's pedal mechanism Luc encourages Carhart to do the repair himself and instructs him how When the repair is not fully successful and Carhart returns to Luc foradvice, Luc delivers the line that is the title of this review In the doubleentendre, Luc was reminding his customer of the need to avoid too much tension in the pedal mechanism if it is to work properly But the advice, and the words play, soul and machine are at the heart of this book and speak volumes about the piano and about music How has a large, heavy and clumsy instrument become the way to capture music, beauty and passion in the hearts of many pianists and musiclovers?Carhart's story begins when he chances upon the piano shop and makes the acquaintance of its owners He soon decides to take up the piano again, which he had studied as a child years before, and purchases the used Stingl baby grand We learn a great deal about the author, about Luc and his circle, and about Paris and its customs as the Carhart's story unfolds.But mostly we learn about the piano and its magic and about music There are chapters in the book where the author recollects his youthful music lessons and the piano teachers he finds in Paris after beginning to play again There are fascinating chapters involving the manufacture and tuning of the instrument, the way the mechanism works, and lore about past and present manufacturers of the piano in France, the United States, Germany, Japan, and elsewhere An excellent chapter near the end of the book describes the manufacture of the Fazoli piano, probably the most expensive and best piano now made, in Italy Carhart describes the schola cantorum, a small private music school in Paris where Claude Debussy once taught and where the author enrolled his children for music lessons During one of the most enjoyable scenes of the book, an elderly tradesman at Luc's shop sits at the keyboard and enthralls his listeners with the performance of a Scarlatti sonata In addition to Luc and Carhart, a host of characters come to life, including the alcoholic tuner Jos, Luc's lady friend, Mathilde, Carhart's teacher Anna, and the pianists Gygory Sebok and Peter Feuchtwangler who appear in the book as leaders of master classes Luc himself, part hardheaded businessman and part lover of the piano, falls in love successively with many of the instruments that come through his shop, Steinways, Erards, Pleyels, Gaveaus, and others As Luc evocatively says at the end of the book, You can never have too many dream pianos.I studied piano as a child, stopped during college and law school, and returned to the instrument when I went out on my own I haven't left it since then I took lessons for an initial few years and then, regrettably, have tried to learn the instrument by myself The piano has meant a great deal to me over the years.This book will appeal to any serious student of the piano or to lovers of the inexhaustible literature of the instrument The book will also make a wonderful and unusual gift to those on your list who love or who work with the piano.Robin Friedman I truly loved this book! The Piano Shop dealswith the technical aspects of repairing, restoring and reawakening a love of music in Thad Carhart, the author of this memoir Parts of the book read like a novel, a story about a man finding again his love and pleasure in creating music and other parts of the book read like a technical manual, detailing the various processes of repairing and restoring pianos I love how Carhart was slowly allowed to become a friend of Luc after getting referred by a previous client I loved their little world in the Atelier, and their respect for the physical piano I learned so much about so many different types of piano It did read sometimes like fiction with Luc Mathilde's growing relationship and Jos I especially liked the Master classes where 20 students selected had 1 hr 15 min to play their piece and were advised by Sebok His response to each student was unique only to them I also enjoyed Carhart's trip to Italy to see the newest pianos made (began in 1978) He had a meeting Paolo Fazioli (CEO, designer), took a tour, and listening to their piano's strengths Before Carhart left, Fazoli gave him a autographed souvenir one foot long piece of spruce from the Val Di Fiemme (used to make Fazoli sound boards.) I love piano music and playing it (alone!) As a child I started on an old upright Steinway in Ebony from 1900 which was pretty beat up; next my parents bought a mahogany George Steck console for their living room Years later I bought an American Chickering Console, in solid pecan from Boston (est 1823) From the very first Chickering's pianos were of superb quality and design and coupled with a partner who was good at marketing his pianos became known throughout all of North and South America In 1843 he incorporated his concept for a cast iron frame in a concert grand piano, and an improved version of this piano received unparalleled praise at the first International Exposition held in 1851 at the Crystal Palace, London, winning the top awards In 1867 following the great Paris Exposition of 1867 Frank Chickering had the Imperial Cross of the Legion of Honour, then one of the world's most prestigious nonmilitary awards, bestowed upon him by Emperor Napoleon III for services to the art of music The Chickering pianos built up until around the Second World War are considered to be second to none and some of the concert grands built around the period of the late 1800's to around 1925 have some of the most powerful and rich sounds possible, especially in the bass Chickering was the largest piano manufacturer in the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century, but was surpassed in the 1860s by Steinway. This is a really special and beautifully written book Even though I’ve never been to Paris and I don’t play piano or know how to read music, I found everything in here fascinating Almost gave it 4 stars, because I was somewhat disappointed in the ending which felt rushed and, it’s kind of hard to describe without giving too much away, but the events described at the end lowered (for me) what was a grand true story Too bad, because up until the end it was vying for inclusion on my favorite books list It's worth at least 4 ½ stars though Wonderful facts about pianos, piano making, piano repairing, history of pianos, and a real feel for a particular Paris neighborhood Gave this to a piano playing friend of mine as a gift and she was in heaven I’d say to give it to all the pianist readers in your life, but it would be a great read for anyone A warning: If you read this as a nonmusician, you might very well start longing to own a piano and become eager to take piano lessons.