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This title in other editions

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey

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Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A fascinating, lyrical memoir about one woman's obsessive search for the perfect piano-and about finding and pursuing passion at any age

How can a particular piano be so seductive that someone would turn her life upside down to answer its call? How does music change human consciousness and transport us to rapture? What makes it beautiful? In this elegantly written and heartfelt account, Perri Knize explores these questions with a music lover's ardor, a poet's inspiration, and a reporter's thirst for knowledge.

The daughter of a professional musician, Knize was raised in a home saturated in classical music, but years have passed since she last played the instrument that mesmerized her most: the piano. Surprised by a sudden, belated realization that she is meant to devote her life to the instrument, she finds a teacher and soon decides to buy a piano of her own.

What begins as a search for a modestly priced upright leads Knize through dozens of piano stores all over the country, and eventually ends in a New York City showroom where she falls madly in love with the sound of a rare and pricey German grand.

"At the touch of the keys, I am swept away by powerful waves of sound," Knize writes. "The middle section is smoky and mysterious, as if rising from the larynx of a great contralto. The treble is bell-like and sparkling, full of color, a shimmering northern lights. A soul seems to reside in the belly of this piano, and it reaches out to touch mine, igniting a spark of desire that quickly catches fire."

The seduction is complete. But the piano far exceeds Knize's budget. After a long and painful dalliance, she refinances her house to purchase the instrument that has transfixed her. The dealer ships it to her home in Montana, and she counts the days until its arrival. When at last she sits down to play, almost delirious with anticipation, the magical sound is gone and the tone is dead and dull. Devastated, she calls in one piano technician after another to "fix" it, but no one can.

So begins the author's epic quest to restore her piano to its rightful sound, and to understand its elusive power. This journey leads her into an international subculture of piano aficionados — concert artists, passionate amateurs, dealers, technicians, composers, and builders — intriguing characters all, whose lives have also been transformed by the spell of a piano. Along the way she plays hundreds of pianos, new and vintage, rare and common, always listening for the bewitching tone she once heard from her own grand, a sound she cannot forget.

In New York, she visits the high-strung technician who prepared her piano for the showroom, and learns how a wire tightened just so, or an artfully softened hammer can transform an unremarkable instrument into one that touches listeners to their core. In Germany, she watches the workers who built her piano shape wood, iron, wool, and steel into musical instruments, and learns why each has its own unique voice. In Austria, she hikes the Alps to learn how trees are selected to build pianos, and how they are grown and harvested. With each step of her journey, Knize draws ever-closer to uncovering the reason her piano's sound vanished, how to get it back, and the deeper secret of how music leads us to a direct experience of the nature of reality.

Beautifully composed, passionately performed, Grand Obsession is itself a musical masterpiece.

Synopsis:

Now available in paperback, the critically acclaimed, “lyrical, analytical, yet deeply affecting” (The Washington Post) memoir about one woman’s obsessive search for the perfect piano— and about finding and pursu- ing passion at any age.

 The  daughter  of  a  pro- fessional musician, Perri Knize  was  raised  in  a home   saturated   in   classical music, but it wasn’t until adult- hood  that  she  returned  to  the one  instrument  that  mesmer- ized her most: the piano. When, in  her  forties,  Perri  decides  to buy a piano of her own, she begins by searching for a modestly priced upright, but falls madly, illogically, in love with a rare German grand she discovers in a New York showroom.  After a long dalliance, Knize refinances her house to purchase her piano and has the instru- ment shipped to Montana. But when it arrives, the magical sound that enthralled her is gone, and the tone is dead and dull. One piano tuner  after another arrives to fix it, but no one can.

Knize sets out on an epic journey to restore the instru- ment to its rightful sound and to understand its elusive power. This quest leads her into an international subculture of piano aficionados, all intrigu- ing and eccentric characters— concert artists, dealers, tech- nicians, composers, designers, and builders—whose lives have been transformed by the spell of a piano. She even hikes into the Austrian Alps to learn how the special trees used to build her piano are grown and harvested.

Beautifully composed, passionately told, Grand Obsession is itself a musical masterpiece— and will resonate with anyone who has ever expe- rienced deeply passionate desire.

About the Author

Perri Knize grew up the daughter of a professional musician, in a home saturated in classical music.  But instead of following her father’s path of a career in music, she became an award-winning environmental policy reporter for magazines, including Audubon and the Atlantic Monthly.   In her 40s, she felt called to return to her first love, the piano. She lives in Montana with her husband, Oliver, their mastiff, Ben, their cat, Sylvia, and her piano, Marlene.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780743276399
Author:
Knize, Perri
Publisher:
Scribner Book Company
Subject:
Musical Instruments - Piano
Subject:
General Music
Subject:
Music-Books on Piano and Harpsichord
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20090631
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.44 x 5.5 in 11.795 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruction and Study » Piano Instruction
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruments » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruments » Piano and Harpsichord
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruments » Piano and Keyboard

Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey Used Trade Paper
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780743276399 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Now available in paperback, the critically acclaimed, “lyrical, analytical, yet deeply affecting” (The Washington Post) memoir about one woman’s obsessive search for the perfect piano— and about finding and pursu- ing passion at any age.

 The  daughter  of  a  pro- fessional musician, Perri Knize  was  raised  in  a home   saturated   in   classical music, but it wasn’t until adult- hood  that  she  returned  to  the one  instrument  that  mesmer- ized her most: the piano. When, in  her  forties,  Perri  decides  to buy a piano of her own, she begins by searching for a modestly priced upright, but falls madly, illogically, in love with a rare German grand she discovers in a New York showroom.  After a long dalliance, Knize refinances her house to purchase her piano and has the instru- ment shipped to Montana. But when it arrives, the magical sound that enthralled her is gone, and the tone is dead and dull. One piano tuner  after another arrives to fix it, but no one can.

Knize sets out on an epic journey to restore the instru- ment to its rightful sound and to understand its elusive power. This quest leads her into an international subculture of piano aficionados, all intrigu- ing and eccentric characters— concert artists, dealers, tech- nicians, composers, designers, and builders—whose lives have been transformed by the spell of a piano. She even hikes into the Austrian Alps to learn how the special trees used to build her piano are grown and harvested.

Beautifully composed, passionately told, Grand Obsession is itself a musical masterpiece— and will resonate with anyone who has ever expe- rienced deeply passionate desire.

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