Every time I have new friends to our place, they want to see my studio. “How do you get the music into the computer? Do you write all the notes? All of them? Can you play all those instruments?” I have a video that explains everything! Here’s The Enterprise. I started calling my workstation The Enterprise back in the old days when you had to have physical synthesizers to make different sounds. I had rows and stacks of little black boxes with tiny dials and flashing numbers. Now everything’s in the software. I used to have a piano for composing, but when my husband and I moved to California in the late 90s, our apartment was just to small. Sigh.
I love having a piano, and missed mine so much. I always name my pianos, don’t know why, but I do.
The very first piano I ever bought was The Ill Tempered Clavier. I bought her in 1973 for $50. I was in grad school and needed a piano for my composition classes.
She was a huge upright from the late 1800s. Her case was covered in cherubs, vines, flowers, and curly-cues. Someone, damn that person, painted her bright red and put a coat of antiquing on her. Next, all the cherubs, vines, etc., were highlighted in gold with black outlines. She was an out-of-tune drunk! Couldn’t hold it together for more than a day. A fellow student was also a piano tuner. He gave me an old tuning hammer and a couple lessons on piano tuning. I cranked on Ill Tempered as needed. Wow. I loved that piano, even though she was never in tune or good humor.
My next piano was The Downright Upright. I finished grad school and moved to Minneapolis where Grandma Fanny lived. Grandma Fanny loved music and loaned me money to buy another piano. I got it from Schmitt music; the famous store with the Ravel’s music painted on the side of the building. The Downright Upright and I lived together from the 1975 to 1997. I wrote MANY of my famous pieces on her!! It killed me to let her go. I sold Downright Upright when Tom and I moved to California in 1997.
Sigh. Then, there was Smokey. Smokey was a beautiful grand piano. When important musicians came to Minneapolis, Smokey went to their hotel rooms. I didn’t name her, the piano movers did. Elton John requested Smokey! Andre Previn! Those types. Sigh. I loved her, but gave her to my daughter when we moved to California.
Since music and computers merged, I’ve had lovely keyboards. Freddy Fatar and Roland Roland. Roland is still here, Freddy has gone to his reward. Both had weighted keys and felt like real pianos. They aren’t real pianos, no matter how useful and lovely they are.I kept telling myself I didn’t need Ill Tempered or Downright, or Smokey. I did, though. If your only keyboard is attached to a computer, and the computer and software have to be ON to play, you can’t be spontaneous.
About a month ago, a friend posted on Facebook:
STEINWAY L 5’11” grand piano in fine playing condition; ebony case also fine, bench and new LED elegant piano light, for sale. My dear sister-in-law had a stroke. We would like to find a home immediately for her beloved piano please let me know if you or anyone you know would like to purchase it.
Lucky, lucky, lucky. Tom and I had plans to build a new studio and recital space on our property. I immediately wrote back: MEEEEEEEE!!!
Tom and I went to see her the following weekend. Sigh. Wonderful. Lovely. I am so happy. Here is our first meeting:
We bought her on the spot. I’m so lucky, we’re so lucky!!!
Later that evening, Tom said “What are you going to name her?” I didn’t have to think about it for even a minute.
Her name is Lucky, Lucky Starr. Lucky, because it was only chance I saw that Facebook post, and Starr, for Ellen Starr, the jazz pianist, singer, and arranger who’d owned her for 50 years.