Saturday, 20 June 2009

the piano

Two seemingly unrelated events, one in the northern hemisphere, 38 or so years ago, the other in the southern, about 25 years ago, finally came together this weekend:

1972. Oxford, UK. When I was around 12, I saw the movie If, directed by Lindsay Anderson, and starring Malcolm McDowell. As a British schoolboy, the movie was notably poignant. But more poignant for me was the soundtrack - the Missa Luba. I asked my parents for it, and somehow, they found a copy (an LP, in fact). On the reverse side was Grieg’s Piano Concerto - the first piece of classical music I ever owned, and still to this day my favorite piece.

1984. Neuquen, Argentina. About a month ago, Silvia received an email from an Argentinian living in Germany. Emilio Peroni. He remembered her as his first piano teacher, from when he was between 7 and 10 years old (i.e. around 25 years ago). She was paying her way through University in Neuquen by teaching piano at the local music school. He had found her web page, and wanted her to know that he was now a professional concert pianist.

2009. York, UK. This weekend Emilio came to visit, and we were talking about favorite pieces, and I mentioned the Grieg piece. He sat down, and started to play it. I cannot describe what it felt like to hear someone sat at my own piano playing that... It was like I’d been waiting 38 years in anticipation of that moment, without realizing it until suddenly, unexpectedly, these two unrelated events, one in Neuquen, the other in Oxford, came together.

I write about this here so that, in the future, I perhaps find this page again, and can relive the pleasure of that moment, and the intensity of the emotion that accompanied it. And because what happened to Silvia - a student contacting her 25 years later to say “look at me - you helped make this” - is what some of us can only ever dream of. And as I sit here writing this, to the sound of her student playing for her, I feel that something extraordinary has happened.