Frydryck Chopin Scherzo op 20. Flavio Ponzi (Érard 1859)

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Abandoned Pianos

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French Photographer and pianist Romain Thiery accompanied his own remarkable images of abandoned pianos for his Requiem for Pianos series. 

About thirty of his photographs are focused on a central object: the piano; sometimes with some of its keys missing, sometimes completely dismantled but always sitting imposingly. Impressive and incongruous, it is there. It is where, not so long ago, grace, luxury and a respected novelty used to reign.

At first, led astray by the natural aesthetics of the king of the instruments, one could have seen some kind of romanticism that could be at odds with the photographer’s powerful other works. In the latter, the picture does it job, despite the amazing work on the light: the spectator feels a sense of disquiet -despite the beautiful representation. It is obvious: what used to be no longer is.

In a mess that leads us to ask ourselves a hundred questions, a dust-covered piano is erected and its nobleness is striking, its grandeur lies deep within the basics of our culture. The art of the photographer is to show us this arrogant beauty that relegates everything else to the background.

Andrea James, writer at boingboing.net.

https://boingboing.net/2018/04/27/watch-this-moving-tribute-to-a.html

There is another photographer, Dutchman  Roman Robroek, who also takes photographs of abandoned pianos.

Here is one of  his incredible photographs:

33DB3FC700000578-3574848-Despite_revealing_the_countries_where_his_images_are_taken_Robro-a-35_1462446039246

(Picture credit, Roman Robroek  in an article on the Daily mail online)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3574848/The-day-music-died-Haunting-photographs-pianos-abandoned-locations.html

What do you see when you look at this haunting photograph? I see loneliness, not the “arrogance” that Ms. James expressed in the above.  The sight of this beautiful piano left to decay, discarded and unwanted tugs at my heart strings. Maybe I’m too sentimental but looking at it I think about the hours of music it gave to people long ago. Once it must have been treasured. 

Here is Roman Robroek’s website:

https://romanrobroek.nl/about/

When I started my Urban photography journey, I mostly saw empty, abandoned and decayed buildings. It didn’t take long before curiosity struck me. What was the story behind those buildings? Who used to live there? 

The artist and story teller in me shares his curiosity. I have always been fascinated with the past, especially the 18th century, Victorian and Edwardian eras, and love listening to music played on antique pianos from these eras.  Inspired by all this I created a roombox entitled The Lonely Piano:

In abandoned room in an old Edwardian era mansion a lonely old upright piano stands in the decaying room, with old music sheets piled on top of it and scattered on the floor. Photographs of three women, perhaps they were sisters, hang above the piano. A shadow casts an eerie shape on the wall- the fanciful person might imagine it’s the ghost of one of the women come back to play her beloved piano. Perhaps if you listen one night, the piano will be heard playing an old time melody….

This roombox stimulates the imagination, and the viewer can create a story behind it. Who were the sisters? What happened to them? Why is the piano left in the house all alone and forgotten? Is the house haunted by ghosts of the past?

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More photographs of The Lonely Piano roombox can be seen on my art page in my Gallery:

https://edwardianpiano.wordpress.com/a-curious-art-gallery/#jp-carousel-3541

Here’s another miniature Piano I’ve made.  The title of this roombox is The Old Piano’s Dream.

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In abandoned room in an old Victorian villa a lonely old upright piano stands in the decaying front parlour, with old music sheets, papers and books scattered on the floor around it. Its keys are damaged, it has lost its lid and it is covered with cobwebs.

A photo of a cute baby in a bonnet hangs on the wall behind the Piano and two portraits of a young couple, dating from the 1890s on the wall to the left of the Piano.

The Piano longs for times past when the young couple would play it and fill the room with its music. (Maybe they liked to play the music of Mendelssohn….)

As it dreams of the 1890s it sends musical notes rising into the air as it remembers the young couple ( seen on the wall playing it)…..

You can see more photos of The Old Piano’s Dream on my art page.

https://edwardianpiano.wordpress.com/a-curious-art-gallery/

Both these piano roomboxes went to loving homes via my Etsy store. 

https://www.etsy.com/shop/CuriousJourney

Romain Thiery made a moving tribute called Requiem pour pianos for all the abandoned pianos he had photographed: 

 

 

His poignant photographs can be seen on his Instagram page:

https://www.instagram.com/romainthiery/

 

 

Mozart’s London Odyssey – BBC Documentary

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Lucy Worsley traces the forgotten and fascinating story of the young Mozart’s adventures in Georgian London. Arriving in 1764 as an eight-year-old boy, London held the promise of unrivalled musical opportunity. But in telling the telling the tale of Mozart’s strange and unexpected encounters, Lucy reveals how life wasn’t easy for the little boy in a big bustling city.

With the demands of a royal performance, the humiliation of playing keyboard tricks in a London pub, a near fatal illness and finding himself heckled on the streets, it was a lot for a child to take. But London would prove pivotal, for it was here that the young Mozart made his musical breakthrough, blossoming from a precocious performer into a powerful new composer.

Lucy reveals that it was on British soil that Mozart composed his first ever symphony and, with the help of a bespoke performance, she explores how Mozart’s experiences in London inspired his colossal achievement. But what should have earned him rapturous applause and the highest acclaim ended in suspicion, intrigue and accusations of fraud.

 

Hearing Colour- Neil Harbisson, Artist, part one

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Neil’s talk is very interesting and full of humour- he is witty and so positive!  His jokes made me laugh out loud- such as  references to eating his favourite songs and maybe if teenagers had Lady Gaga salads they might eat their vegetables!


He is aware that his eyes don’t show him what most of us see- a bright world bursting with colour and vitality.  As an artist myself who loves flowers I have a hard time imagining what it would be like to only see shades of grey. I’ve always been into colour and even did a colour therapy diploma a few years ago. Colour is a big part of my life. But yet, Neil presents his world in such a way that my reaction is not of pity as I expected to react, but wonderment- he HEARS colour with his device and uses it to create music and art; he can even hear infra red.


This device has become part of his life and changed how he experiences the world so much that he now sees himself as a cyborg:

Neil Harbisson is a Catalan-raised, British-born contemporary artist and cyborg activist best known for having an antenna implanted in his skull and for being officially recognised as a cyborg by a government.

The antenna allows him to perceive visible and invisible colours such as infrareds and ultraviolets via sound waves. The antenna’s internet connection allows him to receive colours from space as well as images, videos, music or phone calls directly into his head via external devices such as mobile phones or satellites.

Harbisson identifies himself as a cyborg, he feels both his mind and body are united to cybernetics. He doesn’t feel he is using or wearing technology, instead he feels he is technology. His artworks investigate the relationship between colour and sound, experiment the boundaries of human perception and explore the use of artistic expression via sensory extensions.

 In 2010 he co­-founded the Cyborg Foundation with Moon Ribas, an international organisation that aims to help humans become cyborgs, defend cyborg rights and promote cyborgism as a social and artistic movement.

 
 
 

I have to admit to having  a negative response to the idea of cyborgism- the images if scary sci dystopias, loss of human warmth and connection to nature, creatures like the Borg in Star Trek TNG coming to mind, but in the case of Neil Harbisson I see how this implanted device has changed his world for the better.

 

Allemande from Handel’s D minor Suite HWV 428, played on a real 18th century harpsichord

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Allemande from Handel’s D minor Suite HWV 428, played on the William Smith (c1720) harpsichord at the Bate Collection in Oxford, by Douglas Mews. This instrument quite possibly was played by Handel himself and is certainly built in a style he would have been familiar with. Recorded at a Gallery Recital 25.5.13.