Lydia Presley's Reviews > The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart
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Jul 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, memoirs, non-fiction
Read from July 13 to 14, 2010

"You can never have too many dream pianos." - Luc, Desforges Pianos

A book that was recently recommended to me, and which I loved, spurred me to further investigate more books similar to it. That book was A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano. When I stumbled across The Piano Shop on the Left Bank I felt a little thrill and knew I was in for another treat, and I wasn't disappointed.

While A Romance was a book more focused around one particular piano and the lives that it touched, The Piano Shop deals more with the technical aspects of repairing, restoring and re-awakening a love of music in Thad Carhart, the author of this memoir. Parts of the book read like a novel, a story about a man finding again his love and pleasure in creating music - and other parts of the book read like a technical manual, detailing the various processes of repairing and restoring pianos (something I was already somewhat familiar with, my own father being a piano technician for many years). There's history - stories of famous composers, performers and piano builders, there's opinions, some of which I share and some of which were new to me. And most of all, through it all, it's easy to feel the love that the author has for music and for beautiful instruments in the way he thoroughly and thoughtfully weaves together the story.

Recently, while in Chicago I experienced an old bookstore. I walked in, smelled the musty smell of books that have seen more than I ever will in my lifetime. I chatted with the owner who sized me up with just a few questions and was able to match me with a book that was perfect for me. Much like the wand-maker in Harry Potter (for those of you who are still searching to understand what I'm talking about), Luc finds and matches up individuals to the perfect piano for them.

By the time I finished this book I found myself wishing I lived in Paris, just so that I could stop by Desforges and look for myself. I felt an aching to experience, once again, the feel of a perfect action and the sound of a well-tuned instrument. Maybe someday I'll get to go there, it's definitely something that's made its way onto my bucket list.
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