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Bon Journal

Space for musicians

Sometimes I wish I could play a more portable instrument than the piano. It is a task in itself to find a piano in a foreign city. To rehearse for our upcoming concert in Heerlen, my friend rented the beautiful top floor of a well-known house of pianos in Amsterdam.

Yesterday I played on a lovely Boersendorfer in the basement. Artificial lighting is inferior to natural light. Today, we turned off the lights and practised to the sunlight from the roof windows.

The Astor grand has a mellow quality about it - complementing the classical guitar. We have been practising the two fantasias for piano and guitar since early summer. It will be my first performance in the Netherlands.

This lofty room is hired for weekend concerts and wedding receptions. It reminds me of the empty shell of a loft apartment in Bermondsey, London which I had considered buying once. At that time, all I really wanted was a large room with very high ceilings to house my grand piano. After five months of house hunting, I finally found a place I could afford. I compromised space and proximity for the ability to play at all hours. It's not ideal, but it's feasible. Today I realise that I am far from reaching my goal of living the life of a musician.

The sound from this piano in this magnificent room is incredible. I can play anything and it will sound good. The piano and the guitar sounds blend extremely well. They are not an obvious combination, and the repertoire is limited. Still, it's a challenge to make it work.

I sightread music with a bassoonist last Sunday on the 7 foot Steinway he inherited from his grandfather. This experience reminded me once again of my longing to make music with chamber musicians. The piano is a powerful but lonely instrument. My home is too small to welcome regular gatherings of musicians.

If space is what I want, then I must move farther out. How many other musicians share my agony?

28 September 2001 Friday