MEMOIRS OF A PIANO is a whimsical chronicle of the vicissitudes of fortune of a French piano during more than a century of historical upheavals.
In its own voice Piano regales us with many stories, thus joining some of its famous predecessors such as Voltaire’s bed or Jonathan Swift’s tub, or even Gogol’s nose and Kafka’s cockroach, who all talked!
And what stories piano tells! It tells us how it had almost ended up on the barricades during the French Commune. It describes Franz Liszt who had used it at a concert.
It meets young prodigy Claude Debussy and travels with him to Russia where it becomes a house piano of the wealthy patroness of Tchaikovsky.
Fate interferes with piano’s happy collaboration with Debussy, sending the young man back to France to become eventually world famous composer and the founder of the Impressionism, while piano becomes a witness to the mutiny on the battleship Potemkin on the Black Sea in 1905.
Piano’s adventures continue with the dramatic escape from the Red Revolution aboard the yacht Renaissance belonging to a Russian Count. Safe in Turkey, the Count sells the yacht along with the piano to an eccentric American millionaire who renames the boat and sails her among the Greek Islands, buying antiquities.
The yacht and the piano barely survive vicious Atlantic storms on their way to New Orleans, where the ruined piano is discarded and abandoned on the beach. It is rescued by a group of black musicians, who repair it and move it to a club where it has to learn the new music- Jazz!
The saga of the French piano continues in America, eventually leading to piano’s vainglorious participation in the cruelest sport of the Great Depression-Marathon Dancing.
The piano survives it all. Finally, when it ends up among the props at the MGM Movie Studio, and is sold at the famous MGM auction in 1970, piano is an old and wise instrument, which views its history with a touch of nostalgia.
It still wants to serve Apollo, the god of light and music, but it has a secret desire to work with young musicians on the threshold of their fame, as it did once with Debussy, at the start of his life.
And at last, the great piano’s desire is fulfilled.
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