Backpocket Talent: Piano Edition

The faces have it. Serene, contemplative, joyful, brooding – the pianist wears as many expressions as he has reasons for playing the piano. Whether it’s a fleeting encounter or a lifelong affair, it’s difficult to deny the allure of an empty seat in front of a piano. The enchantment not only lies in imagining that we could adequately fill the seat, but that we could provide a public and personal service through the instrument. In his article Über Musik (On Music), Nietzsche insists that “music […] provides pleasant entertainment and saves everyone who is interested in it from boredom. All humans who despise it should be considered mindless, animal-like creatures. […] Let us sing out in eternal praise to God who is offering us this beautiful enjoyment” (1858). Amen.

Babe Ruth knocks that concerto out of the ball park.

Marlene Dietrich serenades Billy Wilder.

Leo Tolstoy and his daughter Alexandra play a duet.

Piano practice is family time for the Kings.

Quantum theory, music theory; it’s all the same to Max Planck.

Play me a dirge, James Joyce.

An accomplished pianist, Condoleezza Rice has a weekly date with her chamber group.

Charlie Chaplin composed and arranged the scores for many of his films.

Sing-along with Margaret Thatcher.

“God gave us music so that we, first and foremost, will be guided upward by it.”
-A 14-year old Friedrich Nietzsche

Muhammad Ali and Etta James share an octave and a laugh.

Albert Schweitzer finds time for a song.

Buster Keaton, Oliver Hardy, and Stan Laurel express varying levels of interest in the piano.

Clint Eastwood owns a restaurant in Carmel, California, which of course features a piano bar.

Amateur pianist Roland Barthes uses his piano for support as well as music.

“My choice early in life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”
-Harry S. Truman

The night time is the right time for a little music between Joe Louis and Lena Horne.

Camping: Ford family-style. Henry and Edsel commune with nature and their player piano.

Albert Einstein entertains.

Les pianistes terribles with Jean Cocteau.

It’s official: The piano is the preferred instrument of boxers. Rocky Marciano and family.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger enjoys the music of Mozart and fellow countryman Bach.

Ain’t that a picture: Ansel Adams plays.

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