Way back in 1993, before we could afford such a thing, my husband bought me a piano.
I used to play it in the evenings right after dinner so I wouldn’t have to referee the nightly debate among my children over who had to do the dishes.
It worked like a charm. I got to lose myself in the music and they learned how to solve their own disagreements.
I don’t play magnificently due to a lifelong aversion to practicing. So, I don’t play for other people. I just play for myself.
I thought about all of this for two reasons last week. One is that I found myself delightfully alone in my house last Friday night, so I took the opportunity to play my piano and it felt amazing.
I also saw a story posted by my friend Sue and it gave me goosebumps. Maybe you saw it too.
Maybe you were even lucky enough to follow this story as it unfolded in real time on Tik Tok. I read it in retrospect and followed up as best I could. It goes like this:
A man named Giorgio Lo Porto posted a short video of his neighbor, whom he’d never met, playing piano music he could hear through the shared wall of their apartments in London. The musician played every day at 2 p.m. and, one day, Giorgio left his neighbor a note of appreciation for the music.
Giorgio asked his neighbor to play “My Heart Will Go On” and the next day he listened as the strains of that song floated through the wall. Later, he left a note asking if his neighbor would join him in a call and response duet.
At 2 p.m. the next day, Giorgio went live on Tik Tok to broadcast their spontaneous concert. At first, it seemed like his neighbor forgot but eventually the two musicians enjoyed a lovely interlude.
They began playing together, through the wall, every weekend. On Valentine’s Day, they played a duet Giorgio posted with this message:
“It’s Valentine’s Day. We’re in lockdown. This was our way of saying, I don’t know who you are but I’m here. You’re not alone.”
A week later, they finally met and Giorgio told his audience it was better than expected.
“His name is Emil. He is 78 years old, originally from Poland. This is his temporary accommodation while he waits for his house to be sold. He lost his wife in December due to COVID and all he has left is the piano. And the reason why he plays at 2 p.m. every weekend is because his wife loved it.”
“He thanked me for keeping him motivated and less lonely. And I promised that I’ll play with him until he moves out.”
The two played together, through their wall, every weekend for two months until Emil had to leave.
How lovely that piano music could connect two complete strangers, one a young man from Italy and the other an older widower from Poland, in such a beautiful way! The experience inspired Giorgio to write his first song, which he called “Dear Emil.”
I almost regretted looking deeper into this story, because I discovered that Emil passed away in his sleep last month. But, then I read what Giorgio wrote about that and I realized their duet transcended this life and that both hearts and the music they inspire really do go on.
Here’s what Giorgio had to say:
“Dear Emil, I knew very little about you, but you changed my life. You gave me back my passion, and we shared that with the world. You’ll be in my heart. I’ll keep playing, thinking of how powerful music can be. You said I was your light, but you’ve been mine too. Bye, Emil.”
Here is the compilation of videos Giorgio posted. It’s really a beautiful story and one of the best I’ve heard to come out to this pandemic.