When did this piano thing really start? I feel I need to tell the whole story, just to have it somewhere, so that I don’t forget again. Because I do that occasionally – I forget, and then I have to think for a while before I remember, or think I remember. So, I will tell one version of the story right here and now.
Some days ago I found a “memory” in my Facebook flow where I could see that I had made a proud posting five years ago – a link with the Mozart K 545 Sonata in C Major. I called it “my new project”. I made it somehow official that I had begun to play the piano. Again. I am 50 now, I was 45 then.
But it all started a long time ago. Maybe not quite 50 years ago then, but not far from it. I remember the big, black upright piano in my grandparents’ beautiful flat. I must have been very small because I only remember how awfully BIG this piano was. It was a mystery to me, but a fascinating one. Sometimes, or rather whenever I could, I took the chance to play. OK, play in the literal sense. It was impossible for me to make music, or anything even slightly close to music. So I just made some noise, and the I probably gave up, or was dragged away from it. I could not figure out how to handle this thing, but still I remember that it was enchanting, in a way I really cannot describe today. Maybe it was similar to the fascination many kids have for advanced computers or gigantic trucks.
From that time, and forever on, I considered people who had pianos in their home very lucky. It was a piece of glamour to me. Later on, I would get friends who had pianos and who took piano lessons. O-oh, I envied them so much! When they did their piano home work, I was sitting by, stunned by admiration and enviness. They could play, the music just kept flowing under their fingers. I could not play a single tone, I did not even understand how to do “Heart And Soul”. There was no piano in my home, and yet my parents encouraged me and my sister to play instruments very much. Flutes. My sister played the flute. I played the recorder. This is indeed a very underestimated little instrument, quite delightful in many ways, but … so thin. A piano was the real thing to me. It could sound as a whole orchestra. You could play any music on it – one sad disadvantage with the recorder is the rather restricted tone span.
And there was Marvin Hamlisch. We got a record with the movie soundtrack to “The Sting”, and I loved the ragtime music so much. My dream was to be able to play “The Entertainer”. Sometimes, when I listened to the music, I pretended I played on an invisible keyboard. Unfortunately I could not understand how to move my hands unsynchronizedly. When I did one movement with my right hand, the left hand did the same, sometimes mirrored, but I could not force them to make different patterns with different rythms.
Four years ago I read a news flash that Hamlisch had died. After all these years, I suddenly remembered him, and remembered what it meant to me to hear him play this piece when I was 9 years old. It is fascinating how seemingly unimportant events can have such an impact in your life. So this post I hereby dedicate to my old piano heroes Marvin Hamlisch and Scott Joplin. Without them, there would have been nothing more to write here.