Our beautiful new piano

Cats on our Petrof upright piano. Photo by Sean Mize.
Luna and Tess inspect the delivery…

When Sean and I set out piano shopping, we expected to buy a nice, well-made, factory-built piano—a Yamaha, maybe, or a Kawai. But then we stumbled across a beautiful used Petrof, handcrafted in the Czech Republic, and fell in love. With its rich, warm tone and the sensitive yet firm touch of the keys, this upright has a resonance, a sumptuousness, that the factory-built pianos lacked. We ended up spending more than we had planned, but because the piano is a few years old and because the Petrof name isn’t particularly well known outside Europe, we got it for a bargain price.

(Even at that price, though, we probably wouldn’t have been able to buy the Petrof without generous subsidies—early birthday presents—from Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Mary Sue and Uncle George, and Aunt Holly and Uncle Mark. Thank you so much, all of you!)

The movers delivered the piano today, expertly hauling it up the eight steps into the building and the sixteen steps to our apartment on the second floor. Our cats, Tess and Luna, aren’t quite sure what to make of the strange new object in their world. They enjoy sitting atop it and surveying the room from a relatively lofty height, but they immediately leap off when someone hits a key.

As for me, I’m delighted to read through some of my old repertory. (Mom sent me a few of my music books, and I’ll be getting the rest when I visit Florida for a friend’s wedding in March.) I’ve been playing Chopin nocturnes, Bach inventions, and Brahms intermezzi and rhapsodies for much of the afternoon. Some pieces have fallen easily back under my fingers. (I played Ginastera’s “Danza de la moza donosa” from Danzas Argentinas so much back in high school that I still have most of it memorized.) Other pieces, such as the glittering Rachmaninoff Prelude in G-sharp Minor, are very messy. It’ll be a challenge to pull that one back together, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to learning some new pieces. In college, you tend to buy an entire volume of works to study just one or two, so I have plenty to tackle.

I’ll probably never go back to practicing hours each day the way I did in college, but it’s a joy to sit down and play through a familiar piece or read through an unfamiliar one. I can feel my arms and hands and fingers re-accustoming themselves to the keys, and I can feel my brain clicking back into music-reading, remembering how to process a blizzard of black dots in an instant. The piano was one of my first loves—I asked my parents for lessons when I was five—and I’m so happy, so very very happy, to have it back in my life once more.