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The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelierby Thaddeus Carhart
Synopses & Reviews
Thad Carhart never realized there was a gap in his life until he happened upon Desforges Pianos, a demure little shopfront in his Paris neighborhood that seemed to want to hide rather than advertise its wares. Like Alice in Wonderland, he found his attempts to gain entry rebuffed at every turn. An accidental introduction finally opened the door to the quartier's oddest hangout, where locals — from university professors to pipefitters — gather on Friday evenings to discuss music, love, and life over a glass of wine.
Luc, the atelier's master, proves an excellent guide to the history of this most gloriously impractical of instruments. A bewildering variety passes through his restorer's hands: delicate ancient pianofortes, one perhaps the onetime possession of Beethoven. Great hulking beasts of thunderous voice. And the modest piano — with the heart of a lion — that was to become Thad's own.
What emerges is a warm and intuitive portrait of the secret Paris — one closed to all but a knowing few. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is the perfect book for music lovers, or for anyone who longs to recapture a lost passion.
"[Carhart's] writing is fluid and lovely enough to lure the rustiest plunker back to the piano bench and the most jaded traveler back to Paris." San Francisco Chronicle
"Captivating...[Carhart] joins the tiny company of foreigners who have written of the French as verbs....What he tries to capture is not the sight of them, but what they see." The New York Times
"Thoroughly engaging...In part it is a book about that most unpredictable and pleasurable of human experiences, serendipity....The book is also about something more difficult to pin down, friendship and community." The Washington Post
"Carhart writes with a sensuousness enhanced by patience and grounded by the humble acquisition of new insight into music, his childhood, and his relationship to the city of Paris." The New Yorker
This intimate and idiosyncratic history of the piano and a view into the secret heart of Paris life is written by an American expatriate, who details his attempts to gain entry into a piano shop where locals gathered to discuss music, love, and life.
Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign — Desforges Pianos — he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop's imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the atelier's master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion.
About the Author
Thad Carhart has lived in France for much of his life. He was educated at Yale and Stanford and has worked as an events coordinator in the music industry and as communications head of Apple Computer's European division. A freelance writer and consultant, he lives in Paris with his wife, Simo, and their two children.
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Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Classical » General