The piano shop on the left bank
There is an optimal time and place to appreciate something as simple as a book. My friend and pianist Helmut sent me the hardback bestseller by T.E. Carhart, "The Piano Shop on the Left Bank" for Christmas 2001. I had actually bought a paperback copy myself. So I decided to send my copy to my friend GM in Houston, and keep Helmut's copy to read. When GM finished reading it, I asked him to send it to the pianist Ann Chadwick.
A year came and went. I finally found some space and time in my daily life to open the covers of this tempting book. On my way to and from the hotel, I read about the author's adventures into a hidden part of Paris and his love for the piano. I identified myself so well with the author's search for a piano and return to a life of music that I almost cried.
The author is an American in Paris who left the corporate life to become a writer. I am a Chinese in London who left the corporate life to pursue a job-free, portfolio career that includes music.
Carhart recalls how he got started in piano, his piano lessons and teachers, and recitals. While he searches for his dream piano, he learns a lot from Luc, the owner of the piano shop. By returning to the piano, he brings back the continuity of music that has accompanied him throughout his life. This music reaches out to his children and his community. He returns to his true self.
Like Carhart, I had looked forward to the day when I could own my dream piano. Unlike Carhart who had to be convinced by Luc to get a grand piano instead of an upright, I knew that only a grand would do. Once you've played on a grand piano, you would not want to return to an upright.
Thank you, Helmut, for such a thoughtful gift.
23 January 2003 Thursday