Brendel’s piano in Caracas -Journey of a Steinway Grand from London to Caracas

In February 2012 Professor Jose Antonio Naranjo asked me if I could find a piano for the National Music Company, the then Culture Minister Pedro Calzadilla had already approved funds for it. My eyes flashed. I immediately made a list of piano technicians I know in London and as soon as I got home to Wimbledon I met with Peter Salisbury.

To explain who is Mister Salisbury I will go back to year 1989 when I played my first recital at the Purcell Room -Royal Festival Hal- Southbank Centre in London. Peter Salisbury has been for 25 years one of the technician working in that very important cultural.. He is one of the 5 or 6 technicians with international level that is capable of tuning for the greatest pianists and who is called by other concert halls such as the Sydney Opera House amongst many other in the world. Peter Salisbury entered Steinway House  as an apprentice at the age of fifteen and came out as a professional piano technician at twenty. What does this training consist of? He explains that he spent three years learning to tune, and two more years learning to handle and make each part of the machinery of the instrument and as many years learning the art of calibrating each sound to perfection as well as the resistance of each key, and the equalization of the balance. It is the work of an artist/craftsman all based on his ear. Peter is passionate about pianos and piano work. His life has been dedicated to making pianists feel happy playing the instruments so they can produce tones that can go from the more subtle pianissimo to the most powerful fortissimo .  Colours, shading of the sound is what we seek as piano performers in order to give life to the works we interpret. 

Peter Salisbury complained a few days ago because he says that tradition which comes from the greatest such as Chopin, Liszt, Clara Schumann is dying and he blames the international competitions that reward those who play fast and brake strings  because they do not produce sound through relaxation, looking for beautiful sounds but are characters that can be defined as fighters or “musical athletes”.

In my case, I had the joy of playing pianos Peter has served in many concerts with works by the great universal repertoire by Liszt, Chopin sonatas, Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart without forgetting that I have also premiered many works of composers such as Federico Ruiz, Mirtru Escalona, Ricardo Lorenz and many others from South America and the Caribbean area.
The experience has always been the best you can have in a concert. Having an instrument with those qualities captures the imagination of the interpreter and helps attain the deep concentration needed to let the music speak as we thought it should sound, without having to accommodate to a less good instrument.

Therefore I did not hesitate to contact Peter Salisbury for the Venezuelan project of finding the best possible piano .

By good fortune the Southbank Centre is in a period of renewal and the Royal Festival Hall could sell one of their beautiful pianos.  He also restored and built for it a second machine or extra action which can be applied and removed with ease. The importance of this is that through this innovation the life of the instrument doubles, in addition there is a difference in timbre or sound / colour between the two.

I am grateful that José Antonio Naranjo believed in my word and after eighteen months of red tape, political uncertainty, elections, the president’s death, new elections, hundreds of emails, linked to the tenacity that has given me the love of my country, the dream of having here an instrument of this quality and constant moral support from Peter Salisbury and members of the National Music Company, BREATH, the piano is ready to be inaugurated on August 9, 2013 at 6.00 pm.

Among the pianists who have played concerts and have recorded piano CDs on this piano are Alfred Brendel, Eugene Kissin, Maurizio Pollini, and this servant, I am proud to say.

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