I moved to Paris after completing my Master’s Degree in Piano Performance in the States. Living and studying there for three years was one of the most significant events of my life. Going back each year to perform is always a highlight — revisiting old neighbourhoods, catching up with dear friends, and eating my weight in cheese and pastry.
I stayed in the home of friends who live in Montmartre. This was the view that greeted me each morning:
I took the bus down to The American Church in Paris each morning for a long practice session. The church is located right on the river, not far from the Eiffel Tower:
The spire on the left is the church. You can see I had spectacular weather while I was there.
The church owns my very favourite piano anywhere in the world, an 1888 New York Steinway I’ve named Josephine. For the longest time the poor piano was in deplorable condition, but a few years back the church sent her to New York where I helped arrange a complete restoration. It took an entire year of work by my dear friend and piano tuner Tali Mahanor and her team, but the instrument that emerged is like no other I’ve ever played. Here are some photos:
There’s a sister instrument to this one living in India. She belongs to the Poona Music Society. They’ve started raising funds to restore her as well. I hope she turns out as glorious as Josephine.
Here are shots of the inside of the church:
The stained glass would reflect off the piano keys:
The gifted music director, Fred Gramann, has been running the entire music program, including the concert series, for the past 40 years. In addition to being a wonderful organist Fred is perhaps the world’s most celebrated composer and arranger of music for handbell choirs.
He’s standing next to the poster he made for the concert, which can be seen more clearly here:
After my morning practice sessions I’d head over to visit my dear composer friend, Thérèse Brenet. She turned 80 last year and is continuing to write new pieces for me. I’ve already recorded five of them and spent my time with her working on the three new ones I’ll be recording this coming year. Here’s a photo of her showing me a passage she added to the new piano concerto:
I also met with our publisher, Paul Wehage of MusikFabrik, who took me to lunch one day at this restaurant:
This is where he gave me the piece Thérèse just completed, along with a piece by a French composer who lived in Mysore and directed the Royal Band at the palace:
I would sometimes stay later and practice at Thérèse’s house on the Pleyel grand in her salon. The name of the company was bought by an Asian manufacturer, but the classic pianos that Debussy and Ravel owned are no longer made. Here’s a shot of the music desk on the one I practiced on, which is probably from the 1920’s:
This style of music desk might be familiar to anyone who knows this painting by Matisse called The Piano Lesson:
After all that work I’d enjoy a leisurely walk home:
And maybe some more cheese:
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