Maggie'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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's review
May 03, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: bookcrosser-s-gift, non-fiction
Read from May 03 to 19, 2011

I’m not a musician. My singing is so egregious that I whisper happy birthday and the national anthem. I play no instruments. The only time I’ve had any contact with a piano was during one summer 50 years ago when I used a neighbor’s beginner’s books to pick out a very few tunes. I never even learned to play chopsticks. So, it’s amazing that Thad Carhart’s book about his love for and intimacy with the piano was one which I read with relish, looking forward during the day to the moments I’d be able to immerse myself in it. He even made the mechanics of the piano fascinating and gave me a feeling for the differences in the concert styles of Liszt, Beethoven, and Chopin.

Thad relates that whenever he sees a piano he’s compelled to open the soundboard to see who the maker was, where it was produced and, often, he will sit and play it. As an avid reader I can relate: whenever I go to someone’s home who has a shelf or more of books I always stand and read the names of the books, perhaps gleaning a bit of knowledge about the reader(s) in the family. And Thad is equally as drawn to piano shops as I am to bookstores. A good portion of this book is devoted to his entrance to, interest in, and friendship with the owner of the piano shop near his home. The friendship with a shop that buys, repairs, and rebuilds pianos feeds his obsession and leads him on to much more to do with pianos.

I was fascinated by all the information on the mechanics of pianos, the training of pianists, and the business of the piano shop. It takes a very interesting and well written to make someone ignorant of music read about pianos with such fascination.

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