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.
as simple as a musical note.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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!
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
My dear friends, I already miss it.
Tulcea, April 26th 2013
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:
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
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
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
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.
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.
April 21st 2013, Tecuci (early in the morning)
(about enjoying it
with modesty )
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.
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.
Traveling Piano 3
Bucharest , Tuesday,
April 16th 2013
My dear friend,
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
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.
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
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
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.
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!
Traveling Piano III
Saturday, April 13th
Greetings, my dear friends! (The Traveling Piano no1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
I'll go to Herastrau park! I can't wait!
Traveling Piano III