Piano Pieces

These piano pieces have a story of loss, of being found and of receiving immortality; a story I hope for everyone. You can read about this story below the photographs.

The pianos photographed in this collection have been lost to a fire .

On a day I was in a field to document the creation of a community garden was the same day a truck made repeated trips to an adjacent area in the same field. Each time the truck’s rollback was opened another menagerie of pianos were thrown out onto the ones before. Sounds of splitting piano were mixed with the discordant thrum of sounding boards crashing into the pianos dumped before them or crashing onto by those that came after.

It was sad to hear and sad to watch. I was not the only one feeling the sadness of seeing what were once beautiful to see and wonderful to hear, fall apart. Others from the community garden came and salvaged pieces, especially some of the fine woodwork that survived the fall from the truck, and somehow didn’t splinter along the wood grain now dry and brittle with age. Some saved piano keys that at one time reached deep into the piano  striking the wires we rarely get to see. I saved all I could with my camera.

Before the truck left for the last time I discovered, from the son of the man who owned these pianos, that they had been in storage; some for decades. They were the outward signs of a man whose passion it was to sell and repair pianos. When salvaging a part from a piano, to repair another, he would hold onto the now less than whole piano “just in case.” For many of these pianos, “Just in case” never came and they sat collecting dust. Eventually, like the pianos, this piano man grew old. It is clear he was a resourceful man. But he never wanted to get rid of them, even though they had no hope of being repaired and eventually they would become beyond being useful. That day came. That day I was standing before this pile of pianos. But also on that day the piano man could no longer remember he was a piano man. On that day, his son made the decision to clear out the warehouse of pianos. It was that day, that I was there to document something more than a garden. That day I spent several hours crawling onto this collection of piano pieces. The next day I returned, drawn by an urgency to capture the beauty of these old pianos. I had learned from the son that on the following day these pianos would be burned. On that third day in the late afternoon I returned to this field hoping to find that the burning had been postponed but found only cold ashes.

These photographs are the results of being there at the right time. They are also the result of a piano man who surely must have loved his work and I am hopeful,  if he could have kown, that he would have been moved to see his work continue on in these photographs.

I am glad to provide a permanence to these piano pieces.