The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier
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. Praise for The Piano Shop on the Left Bank:
“[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.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“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.” –The New York Times
“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.” –The Washington Post
“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.” –The New Yorker
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
"A Fascinating & Informative Book"
By Joseph J. Hanssen "Joe" - June 3, 2001
I can't even begin to express in words what a joy it was to read this book. Thad Carhart has written a book that should appeal to a broad spectrum of readers that includes musicians, piano lovers, novices and professionals alike. Yes, even those who think a piano is just a piece of furniture will learn a lot, and probably be shamed into getting back to practicing once again. If you already own a piano, wish to own one, or just want to know more about pianos & their history this book is an excellent source of information. Did you know that "Fazioli" concert grand pianos costs well over one hundred thousand dollars, and that only sixty are made each year, and there are fewer than one thousand "Fazioli" pianos in existence, and each are essentially handmade? This book is chuck full of information that is so interesting, especially about the 16th and 17th century pianos. There is also a lot of technical information about how piano's work, that explains everything about the... read more
Mesmerizing little book...
By C. Middleton - June 13, 2002
A beautiful musical instrument can be compared to a great vintage wine; one does not need to know all its subtleties in order to appreciate its fine texture, bouquet, and unique taste. Familiarity with art, for example, bolsters one's appreciation of its many forms, and puts one in a frame of mind never to take it for granted. In ~The Piano Shop on the Left Bank~ we are permitted entry into the world of the connoisseur of fine pianos and the magic of superior music. This book describes a re-acqaintance with a love affair of pianos, against the backdrop of romantic Paris and the diverse and unusual characters that make-up this world.An American living in Paris comes across a little piano repair shop that lies almost hidden from the frantic vagaries of modern life. Something about the little shop captures his attention - a spell is cast, and with some persistence, he gains admittance into a secret world for the initiated only - and his journey begins into that predominately guarded... read more
A charming look into a usually hidden world
By A Customer - April 23, 2001
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank is a beautifully-written book that will appeal to three different, although probably overlapping, audiences. The first audience is comprised of people who love playing the piano as adults. I recently resumed lessons after an interlude of half a lifetime, and Mr. Carhart's book expressed many of the feelings through which I have progressed in returning to pianos and to piano lessons, albeit far more elegantly than I could ever express them. The second audience is comprised of people who love pianos. I also fall into this group; I love pianos for themselves. They are unsurpassed musical instruments, and this book gives you a glimpse at their history as objects as well as their existence as music-makers. The third audience for this book is comprised of those who love to get behind the scenes in Europe, viewing a lifestyle that is hard to find (although it can be found) here in the United States. Luc, the primary craftsperson in the book, is... read more