He took lessons and learned all the Chopin etudes and created a CD and celebrated with a party. The piano teacher's house was filled, upstairs and down, people sprawled on the couches and the stairs and on pillows on the floor. That's where I was, on the floor, with a perfect view of his fingers on the keyboard. People kept offering me space on chairs and sofas (there were lots of very well behaved young people at this affair) but I had chosen my space with a purpose. I wanted to watch his hands.
I was reminded of that afternoon as Tannis Gibson showed our Humanities Seminars the way to play the piano.... at least the way she and Chopin agree the instrument ought to be played. She showed us
Chopin Playing The Piano In Prince Radziwill's Salon as she talked about the elevation of the bridge of his hand.
My piano teacher used to balance a small box of raisins on my wrist in, I now recognize, an attempt to achieve the same result. I just wish she had shown me how elegant it would be. On the other hand, my little fingers paled in comparison to Chopin's. Once you get over the creepiness of the thing itself -a cast of Chopin's hand, done at his death- look at how long those fingers were.
There were technical musical terms for the breadth of his finger spread and for the compositions which required digital gymnastics of the highest order. The performances she and her graduate student cued up and shared with us were embellished, almost to the point of giggles, with swirls and trills on the keyboard. The class was, as usual, quite wonderful and I was trying really really hard to be present and in the moment but my mind kept wandering to Mill Valley on a sunny Sunday afternoon, watching my friend's fingers fly across the piano.
It was one of the sexiest afternoons of my life.