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Monologue Of A Pianist No 1 Stuart & Sons Piano
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Monologue Of A Pianist No 1 Stuart & Sons Piano

This will be my last performance for the week. Phew! Thank God! I have been traveling and performing for the whole week without stopping. I have been away from home now for three months. I had enough of flights, airports, taxis, hotel rooms, room service, strangers and living out of my suit case. I miss my family.

I want my own bed, stand under my own shower, I want home cooked food, cuddle up with my wife after making love to her and see the kids running into our room early morning and have their arms around us. I love those lazy weekend mornings when Fruzsina makes pancakes for the whole family and we all sit around the table fighting for the newly cooked pancake and sprinkle them with sugar and lemon juice. My older daughter loves them with strawberry jam and my son loves the pancakes with cocoa and sugar. Fruzsina still eats them the Hungarian way, cottage cheese filling that she makes with cottage cheese, eggs, vanilla sugar and essence and raisin. It is delicious! I just love the boring lemon sugar pancake that my parents ate all in their lives on weekends.

I wonder when the room service comes with my breakfast. I will need to be at the Concert Hall at 11am for a sound check. Oh and I almost forgot, I promised an interview to that American woman I met last time in Paris after concert. She was quite pleasant, should not take too long.

Let's pack everything ready so I just need to grab things when the taxi is here. My tuxedo came back last night from the dry cleaner. I always travel with three of them at least. Accidents can happen. I also hate not wearing fresh clothing every night. Feeling fresh and clean makes me feel great on stage. That's half of the success. If you feel jetlegged, at least look great!

If you learned the pieces, memorized everything and performed it to a few people, you just have to eliminate all the destructive elements before concert and go on stage focused. That's why I don't like to give interviews or see people two hours before concert. I also make sure I don't eat anything heavy a few hours before performance or drink the wrong things. Definitely no alcohol on the day of the concert. I don't drink much anyhow. Although I like winding down after concert. If I have good company or the organizers throw a great reception, I like walking around and socialize with a great glass of champagne or a glass of local wine in my hand. A glass of good Australian wine! That finishes the night for me and always helps to sleep after concert but never before 2am in the morning. I remember the times when I was still lecturing. That is a tough call going to teach after a big night!

I should put a pencil in my bag. I will need it to mark a few places in the score during sound check. Last time my pianos did not work in the Shanghai Concert hall. The acoustics did not carry the soft sound to certain corners of the hall as my Chinese students told me in the break. My Mozart was ruined. However, the Bartok in the second half I fixed it so the Bartok worked really well in that hall.

OK. I am almost ready to go. I wonder if the kids will be home when I call on my IPad to make a video call with them. I like to see their faces before concert. Nothing calms me more than Fruzsina's voice and assurance that all will be fine tonight and hearing the kids' laughter. A call with them puts the concert, success and fame to the right pocket of life. It sorts out priorities. Somehow I can focus better and even if I make a few mistakes, doesn't upset me much because I know, at the end of the tour I will be a father and a husband again, do the shopping, wash the car, do the gardening and vacuum clean the house, watch the TV on the sofa holding my wife in my arms and the kids putting their feet up on the table and all is well.

The taxi has arrived to the stage entrance. The receptionist says hi and asks after my family. Last time they were here with me and my son played a game of chess with Joe while I rehearsed with the orchestra. The stage manager takes me to back stage and shows me the allocated dressing room for tonight. I requested a few things like my fruit platter and lightly sparkling mineral water. Those will be here a few hours before concert. I hang my tuxedo, my bow tie and my Spanish white shirt on the rack and put my back pair of shoes under them so it's all there for tonight. Let's go and see the piano.

In the last two years I have a contract with the Australian Stuart and Sons handcrafted pianos to provide piano for my concerts. I fell in love with them when a friend took me to Stuart's factory in Newcastle. It is a unique looking piano with the most exquisite sound. It is a rare and beautiful instrument that respects tradition and embraces innovation. These pianos have more, 102 keys compared to the standard 19th century 88 keys. This is an extension to the full frequency range for the acoustic piano with 9 extra keys in the bass and 5 extra keys in the treble. I have much more control of the sound as I wish on these pianos.

Here is the beauty, waiting for me to play. One of the distinctive innovation on this piano is the Stuart bridge agraffe, a coupling device that was designed scientifically. It encourages the strings to vibrate in a more controlled manner. The strings of the Stuart Piano, instead of the traditional horizontal way, are held by the agraffe vertically. Identical direction with the strike of the hammer. This innovation produces constant vibration resulting outstanding dynamic range, long sustain and greater clarity more suitable to the entire piano repertoire.

I could go on stage without sound check and testing the piano that Stuart ships to the venue for me from Australia. They have their own piano tuners checking the instrument before concert and they position the instrument to the most suitable point of the concert hall. I strust them blindly.

The only reason I do sound checks is for the sound engineer to test his recording equipment and to make the stage manager relax. He would freak out if I just l flew in the afternoon and walk on stage before concert.

As my fingers run through the silky keys of the Stuart, I am thinking about my old teacher, "Anna neni", at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. She was a tiny, old woman, with arthritis in her bent fingers but gee, she could play! Even that time, sure, she was at least 80 but still teaching, coming to the Academy every day. We saw her taking the stairs to the third floor while other, much younger teachers, took the lift. We had some great time together. She was merciless when it came to practicing and mistakes but the musical aspect of her teaching was unique. Anna neni prepared me for this career such a way that I always can count on my memory and preparedness for concerts. A few weeks before she passed away, she was still there at my concert when I played in Budapest. She was the last to leave the party with me and my wife, who was also her student.

I think I need to ask the stage manager to dim the lights more. It won't suit the Debussy's atmosphere. The rest will be fine. I might just stay a little longer and do some work on the new repertoire. This hall feels very nice right now while everyone is doing their adjusting for the night. I am preparing a big project of performing the Transcriptions by Georges Cziffra at the end of year. I met him two decades ago in Paris in his own Chapel just after his son died. Met him once more in Paris years later then heard the news. He was one of those, who left us far too young. His Transcriptions will be quite a challenge to perform and I am very much looking forward to getting started with the pieces. I got the scores from the Cziffra Foundation when I was in Budapest last time. They look fantastic. I might start learning the first volume, Dances hongroises. My wife will be over the moon.

An hour later the stage manager tapped me on the shoulder pointing to his watch. He is right. I'd better head back to the hotel. I think I will take a walk, find a good cafe to eat lunch, read the newspapers and have a little rest before coming back again for the concert. I need to find some gifts for the kids and for my wife. They never expect anything from my trips but they are always happy if I bring them some surprise.

It is a gorgeous day outside for a walk. I just heard that the concert is almost sold out so it should be a good night.

To be continued....

Cheers, Piroska


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