The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
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The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
Thad Carhart
Biography & Memoir
Jul 31, 2018
Every morning, as he walked his children to school through his Paris neighborhood, American transplant Thad Carhart passed a modest storefront that intrigued him. “Desforges Pianos: outillage, fournitures” announced its stenciled sign, and the tools and components of piano repair displayed in its window—tightening wrenches, tuning pins, pieces of felt, small pieces of hardware—illustrated the work that went on behind the glass. Venturing inside on several occasions to express his interest in acquiring a used piano, Carhart was mysteriously rebuffed. The shop seemed as determined in its reserve as the most punctilious Parisian aristocrat. Carhart’s cracking of the code of that reserve—he must, he learns, be recommended to the shop by one of its existing customers—is his first step into the “intricate world of mutual trust and obligation” that is the city’s hidden community, “the complicated network of local relationships that it was extremely difficult for a foreigner to penetrate.” Carhart effortlessly delivers an informative course in the history and construction of pianos and offers more insight into the French temperament than you might discover in a dozen weightier tomes. Best of all, he introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters, including the tuner Jos, who sleeps in empty trains; Carhart’s Hungarian teacher, Anna, who reacquaints the author with the pleasures of Bach and Bartók, Schumann and Schubert; and, most memorably, Luc, the master of the atelier, whose expertise and gift for friendship is portrayed with great affection.
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May 5
One of my favorite memoirs! Love how he tells the story.
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