"Pianul Călător"


Brasov, May 2nd 2013 (home)

My dear friend,

I am almost convinced that you will be used by the entire community here, by inviting the local artists (the youth studying at the Music High school), as well as the artists from Romania or from around the world, which will benefit people in general and the townsmen of Tulcea in particular.

I felt good in all the cities we traveled together, we've met people hungry for music and I was glad we brought it to their home.

All in all, it was a successful tour and I am glad we arrived in places where I haven't been to before, as was Tulcea for example, where you, my dear friend, will remain. I will visit you, you can be sure of that!

You were asking if it's worth it. Yes, it is! For the joy I read in the eyes of the people when I play and they listen.
Ananswer as simple as a musical note.

Horia Mihail

Tulcea, May 1st 2013 (home…)
(about noises and musical notes)

My dear friends (The Traveling Piano 1 and The Traveling Piano 2)

I am writing from the stage of Jean Bart Theater in Tulcea. As you know, I will stay here for the next three years and I hope I will be used as much as possible by the young musicians.

It is the final leaf in the journal and I'm feeling a bit nostalgic… it took me a lot to put into words all that I've felt in the last recital of this tour. Though that night I had so many ideas, I had to let time pass, for all of the experiences in which I have been through to settle, so that I could tell you about it.

It was a different type of concert… especially knowing it was the last one. I had already gotten used to traveling around the country and especially gotten used to Horia's hands. But it was different for other reasons also.

The evening of April 27th 2013 went kind of like this:

Me, on stage, beautiful in the spotlight (the event planners in Tulcea were highly receptive to all of Horia's requests of positioning the lights so that the public could see us as best as possible), polished, shining, tuned.
A big crowd in the hall. There were ladies with flowers. There were children. I was delighted.

Horia sat down before me, on the chair. I was trembling with excitement. The first part of Sonata Pathétique is my favorite.

The first touch. The first note. The first creak. Oh! Where does it come from? Is it the floor, or a chair? Does it sound like that in the hall as well? The softer we play, the harsher the noise. With each move, I feel the noise piercing my chords. It makes me laugh thinking of how the Moonlight Sonata will sound like accompanied by the floor's noises. Horia doesn't seem to hear a thing. I'm glad. I try to concentrate as well as I can.

In the middle of the sonata a phone rings. The gentleman answers. I am at the concert. I'm coming out now and he leaves the hall. People stare at him. Some get stiff, others sigh. Horia doesn't seem to hear a thing. I already feel guilty, what's happening to me? I will concentrate!

The noises are still there, as background, as a theme. Are they only in my head? The first part of the sonata ends, people applaud. Horia looks to the audience with an understanding smile. If he, who saw so many types of people doesn't understand, than who else will? This is why I respect him. He took upon his shoulders a tough mission: that of educating through music. I must admit I ask myself: is it worth it? Only he has the answer.

The sonata continues. The noises are already part of the hall's music. At a particular moment, a different sound is heard other than that of the piano. It's definitely not classic. It's something … disco. Ah! Another phone rings. It's quickly turned off. And with that the first sonata of the recital ends.

The Moonlight Sonata is so … delicate... I want to say fragile. The first note, the first creak. Horia doesn't seem to hear a thing. Now that's what I call self-control. It drives me crazy, but he doesn't even hear it. He is on auto pilot. He doesn't see, doesn't hear, and doesn't feel. He plays!

A third phone rings. So what? No one pays attention anymore. The music is so beautiful...

The creaks can't be heard, nor the sneezing or the coughing. Beethoven is being played at Jean Bart Theater in Tulcea.

The third sonata , the Appassionata. Strong. Energetic. I can hear and feel his breathing. Oh, how I wish the people understood the effort a piano player puts into one such recital. Horia had 18 of those in the last weeks!

Pam, pam, pam! Horia frowns down at my chords and continues to play. When he presses the pedal, his cheeks tremble. I sense I need a break. But when I see the commitment, the energy, the passion and professionalism of the player, I forget all about it. I play along with him. For the last time on this tour.
The concert ends. The people spring out of the chairs. Applause, flowers. Did the floor or the chair creak that terribly? Or was I just nervous of being left alone? The audience doesn't seem to have heard anything but the music. I am thrilled by their excitement. And by Horia's simple joy.

My dear friends, I already miss it.

The Traveling Piano 3

Tulcea, April 26th 2013
(about 2 in 1)

My dear colleagues,

What I am about to tell you is not a recital story but a … piano marathon story. While I sat on the stage in Tulcea, I heard, from three different sources, the following story:

Horia Mihail played on April 25th in Chisinau. And because the Moldavian co-producers understood that it is a recital and a concert, in the first part he played the three sonatas by himself and in the second part he played the concert with the orchestra. Interesting, isn't it? But, most of all, difficult. It was a real marathon because, except for the fact there is no custom of playing a solo recital, with only the piano on stage during one part of the concert and then a concert with orchestra in the second part, it's not plausible to have the energy to play for so long. Besides, these are two different contexts. One gets off the recital mood and one needs to immediately get into the concert atmosphere. But Horia did that! And quite well!

It was a surprise prepared by the Moldavian co-producers at the Organ Hall. Our pianist found out about it a day before the concert. He was at rehearsals with the Moldavia Chamber Orchestra conducted by Cristian Florea and he asked the orchestra members what they will play besides the Beethoven concerto. They answered: we won't play anything else, only you will. The Sonatas. After a few minutes of surprise, he started slowly dealing with the idea and so the concert took place. For the first time in his life, Horia Mihail played a recital and a concert in the same evening. This could be included in his personal Guinness Book.

Apart from that, the concert was broadcast live on Radio Moldova 1, which again messed the pianist's plans up a bit. Horia found out about this during the break in the concert, which he had planned to last for half an hour, so as to have time to relax and change his mood and for the tuner to prepare the piano. Well, things didn't go that way, because after a quarter of an hour he was called to start playing the second part. Horia told the producers he needed more time, they replying it isn't possible as it was all broadcast live on Radio Moldova.

And it all went very well. The audience present in the Organ Hall said it was a big success. What more can I say, I will end with a cliché, maybe, but it fits perfectly: All is well that ends well.

My dear friends, let's send Horia more energy!

The Traveling Piano 3

Tuesday, April 23th 2013, in the car, on the way to Chisinau

My dear travelling friend,

If someone had told me last Saturday that at the two recitals of the Traveling Piano in Tecuci and Roman there would be over 1200 people, I would have smiled with disbelief. But that's what happened! I'm impressed!

Now I'm in the car, on my way to Chisinau. (You've noticed that until now I wrote to you only from the car, it's no wonder they call me the Traveling Pianist; when I am not on the chair in front of you, I am before the wheel or riding shotgun). Back on the topic, I will play there the day after-tomorrow in the evening, at the Organ Hall. It won't be the recital with the three sonatas we played together in Bârlad, Tecuci and Roman. I will perform, together with the orchestra, Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, also by Beethoven.

I can't write very much, as I'm typing on my phone and I want to pay attention to the road. One on top of the other, I can say the three concerts in Bârlad, Tecuci and Roman have been a success. To see over crowded halls in small town, to receive thank you messages over the phone, to be hugged by children asking for autographs, this makes me believe in what we do. I will see you soon for our last recital together.

Horia Mihail

Sunday, April 21st 2013, Tecuci (morning, to mid day)

My dear friend,

Thank you for your praise. Though I do believe that it is a bit too much. I try to bring a small amount of joy into people's hearts, that's all. With your help. And do what I set out to do 7 years ago, when I started to travel through the country: to bring chamber music into a larger number of Romanian houses.

I'm writing from inside the car, in front of the Marcel Guguianu Pavilion, one of the many cultural places in this city, one that surprised me back in 2005, when I came here for the first time, and continues to surprise me. For those who don't know, Bârlad is a place that needs visiting, its museums are absolutely amazing and not just the museums in themselves, but also the people who take care of these places, starting with the manager, Mr. Mircea Mamalauca.

I found friends in Bârlad, a very warm audience. I was glad to play together, as you said, it is a special feeling when you perform for old friends. Even if I don't look to the audience, I can feel the people's energy and I am sure I pass it on to you.

In 5 minutes we're leaving for Tecuci. I haven't played there before. I'm nervous. The success of this tour doesn't depend only on me or you, but on the way the local producers get involved in the process. We will see, if it is at least the same as in Bârlad, I will be very glad.

Horia Mihail

Sunday, April 21st 2013, Tecuci (early in the morning)
(about enjoying it with modesty )

Dear Horia,

I haven't known you for a long time, but I can't stop but notice the humbleness with which you receive your applause. When people cheer at the end of the concert, your face turns red as if after a marathon, your forehead is filled with beads of water and you get up slowly off the chair. Your hands tremble. Those moments are definitely special. Before my keyboard stands a humble and honest man who bows down before the public's applause, even if these are at the Radio Hall, or in Cismigiu Park, or in a museum in Bârlad.

You have a unique way of enjoying the applause. On the inside, with a simple and warm smile on your face. I've met lots of artist in half of century of life on stage. Some are smug and receive applause as if they deserved them, others are cold, they look at the audience with empty eyes, and others are distant, impenetrable. I've seen some shy ones looking only at the floor.

Your warmth and the affectionate way with which you played and talked to the audience in Bârlad make me regret that we have such few recitals together. There were the two in Cismigiu and Herastrau, the one from last evening in Bârlad, the next ones are in Tecuci, Roman and Tulcea. In Tulcea I will remain for the next three years. I will miss your rendition of Beethoven.

You were saying to a reporter last night that you are in Bârlad for the third time and the people here are already your friends. How is it to meet people for the second time, for the third? What does it feel like?
It was my first time here. I don't know how it looked like to you, but it was a strange hall the one in which we played. It was like an aquarium. We were sitting in the center, down somewhere. You went up two steps and all around us were two rows of chairs, the ground floor – then you went up on some stairs to the first floor. And there another two rows of chairs. Those sitting upstairs had to lower their heads over the handrail to see us. The ones from the second row could only hear us. But that didn't bother them for sure.
Now you are probably sleeping. I am in the car, on my side, without legs, the same way the other pianos stayed and I'm waiting to be taken to the Culture House hall. It's windy and chilly in Tecuci as if winter is coming. I hope tonight won't be the same and that many people will come to the Culture House. We are both for the first time in Tecuci. I can't wait to see and hear how it will all be.

The Traveling Piano 3

Bucharest , Tuesday, April 16th 2013

My dear friend,

I said it to the Cismigiu Park audience, after the first sonata and the first applause, I turned towards the people and I was very pleasantly surprised. I was expecting to see dozens of people (how many there were when I started playing), I saw a couple of hundreds, that had gathered in a few minutes. The same happened in Herastrau Park.

I met as well as recognized people who told me they keep up with my work, that they come to my concerts. It made me happy. There were many who I don't think have ever stepped into a concert hall, especially the youth. They stopped walking and stayed until the end. To listen to Beethoven for the first time, for an hour, it's not bad.

This is how we create music lovers, not by forcing them to come into concert halls, but just by going to them. Physically, I felt much better in Cismigiu as the temperature was appropriate for playing the piano, in Herastrau it was cold, I think you felt it too, at some point you went out of tune for a short time. But along the way we both warmed up due to the warmth released by the listeners. What's more, as you said, we played all three sonatas in Herastrau.

It was a very good experience. There definitely is a big difference between playing in a concert hall and playing outside, where all kind of sounds can be heard, but an important part of playing an instrument is the power of concentration and the concentration exercise. Even in the concert halls small incidents may often arrive: a phone ringing, someone coughing, a child crying, and then, if these things distract you, small mishaps may happen. The musical discourse must go on. As if on auto pilot.

I agree, as you've requested of me, our first two encounters were extremely pleasant. We have to work a little until we sound perfect! I expect that on Saturday, in Bârlad, in the concert hall, we will see our true relationship!

Horia Mihail

Monday, April 15th 2013, Bucharest

My dear stage colleagues,

I start with a quote: what happened here today is a miracle! Said a lady who came to listen to Horia Mihail in both Cismigiu and Herastrau Park. When I arrived yesterday in the park, around 2:00 PM, the wind was blowing, the sun went in and out of the clouds, I was afraid the rain was about to fall. It wasn't at all the perfect spring day it was a day before.

The people passing looked at us with a lack of interest and my state became worse. Twenty minutes before the recital the rain started. A cold, rapid rain, wiped the alleys of the park and my keyboard was trembling.

Horia Mihail was worming his hands as he well as he could. It's difficult for a pianist to play on such weather.

It's 5:00 PM. In the gazebo there were already a few dozen people. Horia Mihail comes up, seats himself on the chair, closes his eyes, places his fingers on the keyboard and the music starts flowing. And the sun comes out of the clouds. The rain stops. The wind stops. The passersby stop. They all listen. What happened here today is a miracle! The lady was on the bench in the gazebo, on my right.

400 music lovers gathered. Some came, others left, some stayed until the end. Horia Mihail played all three sonatas. As if he were in the concert hall.

But it wasn't a stiff atmosphere, pictured were being snapped left and right, I saw couples who were listening to the Moonlight Sonata while holding hands. Some young people sat on the grass and started reading. It was the second recital where I and Horia Mihail felt appreciated.

Horia, I await your approval. My colleagues I'm waiting to hear your opinions about my experience!


The Traveling Piano III

Saturday, April 13th 2013, Bucharest

Greetings, my dear friends! (The Traveling Piano no1 and no2.)

I am the eldest among you (I am 60 years of age), I'm the heaviest (I weigh over 700 kg) and... as the tuner says, my sound is the clearest (though no one has stroked my keyboard in the last 30 years). My last name is Steinway and I am the Third Traveling Piano.

I've sat in the basement of the radio station for longer than you have; I've had time to reflect, during the first and the second year, when each of you played in different parts of the country, upon the moment when I will enter the stage. I had a tour opening I wish you had had, but it is kind of late for that now. When 6 boys came to take me to studio 9 bis (I've been sent there after I was refurbished), everything was like a show. Two video cameras filmed me from all angles, two reporters were there and asked Mr. Puiu all sort of Technical data about me (and so I remembered I was once one of the main pianos of the Radio Hall). After I was put in the car, the 6 boys took pictures of me. I felt like a star before going onstage.

Then I got to Cismigiu Park. My first appearance was in open space. I brought classical music to a place where no one expected it to be heard. I felt like the most beautiful thing in this city as the people were gathering to see me, to take pictures of me, to touch me.

Then Horia Mihail came! At last! I waited two years to show him that although several decades have passed over me, I am a high-performance concert piano.

It was an extremely successful recital, I would say, without any trace of modesty. One of most beautiful and crowded parks in Bucharest, on a spring afternoon, was a veritable mosaic of colors, voices and chatter. A perfect spring day. A perfect day for Beethoven's music (some say Beethoven suits Horia Mihail the best).

A youngster in boots and leather jacket, a pierced adolescent, with jeans and sneakers, grand-parents and grand-sons, ladies with fliers promoting the Traveling Piano (they must have come on purpose!), students with wide frames on their glasses, bicyclists, lots of children, boys and girls that you definitely don't see in a concert hall, people stopping, raising their eyes over the heads of the crowd that had already surrounded the gazebo and had stayed to listen. I think I was seen and heard by over 1000 people.

If it had been a hall, you could have said it was overcrowded. Especially when they applauded. When Horia Mihail was asked for an encore! And then at the autograph signing. When they just wouldn't let him leave. I was constantly being photographed. And this was my first public appearance after 30 years of sitting locked away in a studio.

Tomorrow I'll go to Herastrau park! I can't wait!


The Traveling Piano III