For our friends of english speaking language!
World Piano nº2 – The eyeliner statement.
In July of 2012, I was presently enchanted with a remarkable country that hides in between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. The country in question is Slovenia, not a common touristic destination amongst Brazilians visiting Europe, but I can assure you that the visit is worth it not only for the country`s natural beauty, but also its hospitality and charm.
Music is no stranger to Slovenian history. It was there that the oldest instrument in the world was found, at the cave Divje Babe, a flute was discovered from the glacial Neanderthal era. Many years of musical craftsmanship evolution were necessary to go from primitive flute to our piano. When you observe older civilizations and their ways of constructing instruments such as flutes and drums, you find that these were part of their everyday life helping them to express and communicate during that time. Only then you realize how much things have changed and even though centuries have passed the primary function of instruments remains. We still invent new ways of making music to express ourselves. I wonder if in a thousand years we will look back to pianos, synthesizers and computers in the same way we now see tapes and vinyl records. Probably yes, it`s part of the natural selection where things eventually get recycled.
There was a time when the piano wasn’t the almighty instrument it is now. The father of the piano was the harpsichord, before that we had the lyre, the flute and at the very beginning of everything musical, the voice. Love, fear, war, and hope were all themes for all kinds of music.
Slovenia has witnessed all of the transformations in Oriental Europe. It once belonged to The Romans, The Byzantine, The Venetian Republic, The Duchy of Carantania, The Holy Roman Empire, The Habsburg Monarchy, The Austrian Empire, The Austro-Hungarian Empire, The Serbian Kingdom, Croatia, The Yugoslavian Kingdom, The Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, and finally reaching its independency in 1991! Today, Slovenia is part of The Euro zone, and the country has nearly 2 million inhabitants. It seems so small in comparison to the enormity of São Paulo city alone.
The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana, a small but nonetheless charming city. You can walk around everywhere, from the National Opera Theatre to the Dragon and Butcher`s bridges, making your way into the central market or just strolling along the river. The Butcher`s bridge was incredibly interesting, as it is covered in padlocks left there by lovers from around the world who throw away the keys in the hope that their love will last forever.
Slovenians are very much in touch with nature. The scenery is breathtaking, from Lake Bled to the Smarna Gora Summit.
Our piano is at a restaurant/café called Gostilnica XXI at 21 Rimska street.
It`s not a large restaurant, but it has a wonderful display of street tables for those much appreciated summer nights. The piano is located at the entrance, near the bar where local folk artists and other musical genres frequently play at the tight designated area. The piano was well tuned and had a Werner branding badge on. The keys were soft and the lid usually stays closed as the restaurant doubles the rest of the instrument’s body as a table to keep some glasses, cups and general cutlery. After an extensive research, four different piano factories with the name Werner were found. It seems to be a popular name for companies of German origin. The oldest factory is in Dresden from 1810, commanded by Paul Werner. Another possibility is that our piano came from Berlin, made by Ed Werner, a renowned piano master from 1881. There is also a Werner F.W. factory from 1845, in Döbeln, also in Germany. Last, but not least there is the Werner Piano Company of Chicago USA, founded in 1902. The owner of the restaurant wasn`t present on the day thus the mystery of this beautiful baby grand piano goes unsolved. If I ever find out its true origin I`ll make sure to post here. My sixth sense tells me that Berlin and Chicago are off the list of possible choices, as the branding is very different from the badge present on the instrument. So Werner F.W. and Paul Werner remains, place your bets!
“Por causa de Você” by Tom Jobim with lyrics by Dolores Duran of 1957 was the song of choice. It’s a “Samba-Canção”, a descendant genre of “Bossa Nova” and this particular song has a great story. Before fame, Tom Jobim was composing the song alongside famous Brazilian poet, Vinícius de Moraes, and while on a visit to the National Radio(the most important radio in Brazil at the time), they bumped into Dolores Duran(one of Brazil’s greatest singers at the time) while she rehearsed at the radio station, he showed her the song. Without hesitation, Dolores grabbed her eyeliner and started to write the lyrics for “Por Causa de Você”. Knowing that another lyrics was being written by the famous poet, she cheekily wrote a note to him: “Another lyrics is cowardice”. The note won the battle for Dolores as lyricist and this episode is registered on the record Antônio Carlos Jobim, live at Minas Gerais,a must have album for anyone who is into piano and voice.
There are many famous versions of this song including singers Elizeth Cardoso (1958), Maysa (1964) the French version by Silvia Telles “Gardez moi pour Toujour”, and the unforgetable Frank Sinatra`s english version “Don`t Ever Go Again”, lyrics by Ray Gilbert, of 1971, in Sinatra & Company album.
Pianos, songs, eyeliners, several Werners, dragons and a fairy tale country all mashed up together in a once in a life time trip.
See you at the next piano!
Video: Adriana Camarinha
Ps: A super special thanks to Nina Ogrinc and Luka Mladenovic for not only being the best hosts, but also booking the piano for me. To all at Gostilnica XXI, I wish you guys the best, and thank you for your kindness.