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The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier


The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier Cover

ISBN13: 9780375758621
ISBN10: 0375758623
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

1. As much as it is a history of the piano, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank also offers a warm account of the authors friendship with Luc, the ateliers master. When Carhart first meets Luc, he offers Carhart his right forearm to shake, since his hands were wet. Carhart observes that this is a particularly French custom. What other customs does Carhart encounter that might surprise or startle an American observer? What might be an explanation for the French way of doing things?

2. Carhart admits that, with Luc as a guide, he begins to feel as though hes looking at pianos for the first time. How would you describe Lucs attitude towards the piano? What characteristics does Luc find attractive in the pianos that pass through his restorers hands?

3. In the chapter entitled “Miss Pemberton,” Carhart recalls a piano teacher of his who once remarked, “Music isnt music unless we share it with others.” Would you agree with this statement? Why, or why not? Do you agree with Carharts description of a piano recital as a “confidence game”?

4. What, according to Luc, contributes to a pianos personal character? In what ways do modern production techniques sometimes diminish this character?

5. In describing his evolving friendship with Luc, Carhart writes, “Beyond our conversations about the pianos in the shop, certain things were tacitly understood. Luc and I virtually never asked about each others personal lives, although details occasionally came out as we talked.” How does this picture of a friendship compare with how most Americans understand the idea of friendship? Indeed, would you label his relationship with Luc a friendship, or something else?

6. After buying a Stingl baby grand piano for his tiny Paris apartment, Carhart decided to embark on a series of piano lessons (something he hasnt had since childhood.) How is Carharts attitude towards lessons different from when he was a child? What, according to the story, are some of the pleasures that re-discovering childhood passions can offer?

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Sandra Miller, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Sandra Miller)
With a quiet and exquisitely written narrative we are invited into and asked to share a deep and passionate journey into real relationships, a community of music lovers, and the artistry/craftmanship that makes this possible. It is and isn't about the music itself which is remarkable in a way, but when the music rises to prominence in vignettes within the larger story it takes your breath away, just as it did for Thad Carhart. If you love music, if you love pianos, or if you just like an extremely well written memoir, read this.
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Erika Swain, September 19, 2009 (view all comments by Erika Swain)
I love this book. LOVE IT. I read it years ago and have passed it around to so many of my friends. Such a beautiful writing style and an amazing story.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Carhart, Thaddeus
Random House Trade
Carhart, Thad
New York
Musical Instruments - Piano
Composers & Musicians
Family/Interpersonal Memoir
Rive gauche
Biography & Autobiography
Music - Instruments - Keyboard
Personal Memoirs
Composers & Musicians - General
Americans -- France -- Paris -- History.
General Biography
Biography-Composers and Musicians
Musical Instruments / Piano & Keyboard
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Trade Paperback
Grade Level:
8 x 5.1 x .6 in .5 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Classical » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruction and Study » Music Appreciation
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruments » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruments » Piano and Harpsichord
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Instruments » Piano and Keyboard
Biography » Composers and Musicians
Biography » General
History and Social Science » Europe » France » Paris
Travel » Travel Writing » Europe
Travel » Travel Writing » France
Travel » Travel Writing » General

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
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Product details 304 pages Random House Trade - English 9780375758621 Reviews:
"Review" by , "[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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by , US
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