"The Piano Shop on the Left Bank"

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart

This book wasn't quite what I expected, but I quite enjoyed reading it. First of all I love the title.  Put pianos and Paris together and I'm hooked; the title gave me no choice but to find it and read it. I think I expected a little more Paris and a little less piano, but this works too.

The author lives with his wife, daughter and son in Paris. Walking his children to school every day, he noticed a small piano shop in his neighborhood and became curious. He had played piano as a child and began to think about buying one and bringing music back into his life. So one day he rang the bell and went in, and that began a friendship that would lead him into a Paris world of rare and antique pianos, music schools, teachers and students.  Wading through typical French reserve he found friends, the perfect piano for his apartment, and music teachers for himself and his children.

There is a lot of information in this book about pianos, old and new. There is history, tradition and lots of detail about how pianos are built and tuned. There was one chapter that got so detailed I began to get a bit tired of it, but the pace picked up in the next chapter and I finished the book quite happily.

The tone of the writing is a little more scholarly than I expected, but don't let that deter you. It's not a text book at all, but more of a memoir recounting the author's journey back into music. It's personal as well as very well written.

Paris and pianos. Turning the last page made me feel like I was leaving a world of beauty that I'm going to miss for a while. Ah well. All good things, including this charming book, must end. 


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