*updated May 2nd, 2016
If you are a fan of classical music, then chances are that you’ve already heard the name “Fazioli” associated with some of the world’s most prestigious pianists.
But did you also happen to know that the Fazioli Pianoforte is made in Friuli?
This matters because I live in Friuli, and I am here to show you all of the wonderful, beautiful, exciting things that you can do here in this region of Italy!
While I am not a pianist, I can’t read music and couldn’t tell you anything about the personal lives of Beethoven, Bach or Mozart, I do know that I love listening to the piano.
It speaks to me. My surroundings fade into a blur and I shut out all other sound in the room in order to soak up every note that resonates from this beautiful, magical instrument.
If you feel the same way about the pianoforte, then I invite you to continue reading. I will share with you why the piano is so magical to me and how I finally realized one day that one of the world’s most famous piano maker was literally in my Italian back yard…
The Old Lowrey
I grew up in a musical family, with siblings that could often be heard fluttering away on the flute or trumpeting away on the trumpet.
My mom, on the other hand, who had dedicated her life to the piano, played the old Lowrey that sat in our living room.
Although I never played any instruments, I always enjoyed listening to my mom tickle the ivories of the Lowrey. She was a gifted pianist and also taught piano years ago, but as time went on and commitments took her elsewhere, the old Lowery often sat idle and started to collect dust.
The piano may not get much use anymore, but that doesn’t stop me from begging her to sit down and play me a tune when I am home for a visit. She quite humbly insists that she is probably rusty and says, “I haven’t played in a long time!”
She pulls out the bench, sits down and begins to move her fingers quickly over the keys.
All she hears are the missed notes and mistakes.
I hear magic.
The Music In The Old Church
Since my mom’s playing had such a powerful impact on me, my ears perk up and I stop to listen if I catch a stray note that floats out of an open window or door, which is exactly what happened one day as I was walking through a festival in the town where I live. I heard the piano notes fluttering through the air and noticed that it was originating from a little old church across the street.
I peeked inside and was pleasantly surprised to see that the entire space was dedicated to the history of the piano that was being played inside, so I went up the steps to have a look around.
The “church” is actually a former church, used today for local art shows or special events. It was deconsecrated long ago because of a rumored murder that took place inside, and although I have tried to look through local history books and locate more information about the rumor, I have never found anything.
Entering this little old church was already mysterious and intriguing, so to have the soft sound of piano music echoing from the walls was a particular experience for me: intriguing, enchanting and magical.
Inside were numerous photos and several Fazioli pianos. This very famous brand is known throughout the world for its superb quality and for the world renowned pianists who have the privilege of playing it.
I slowly made my way around the old church, looking at the black and white photos of craftsman and rows of wooden piano forms waiting for the next phase of production. The pianoforte played its lovely tune in the background, the keys swiftly moving up and down, yet the bench before it sat empty.
It was a player piano.
Knowing the history of the former church, it seemed as if a ghost was sitting at the bench and invisibly caressing the keys.
It was a magical moment that I will never forget, and as I reluctantly exited the church, I realized where these beautiful, famous pianos were made: right here in Friuli.
What made me feel even more dumbfounded was that their factory and concert hall was minutes from my home!
One day as I was chatting with a friend, I mentioned to him that I’d seen the display recently and that I’d like to go to a concert. Since he is much more knowledgeable about classical music than I am and had already been to some concerts, he told me he would choose the event and take me along.
It was a truly breathtaking experience. We were seated right behind the pianist, who, together with the violin and cello, performed a piece by Franz Schubert that vibrated through the floor and into our souls.
It was the first, and best, classical music concert that I had been to, something I will never forget.
After the first concert, I decided to make it an annual tradition to attend. I usually prefer trio preformances, but when I saw that a cello and piano duo would be playing in January, I knew I had to go. The sisterly duo performed pieces by Schumann, Brahms and Rachmaninov.
In order to prepare myself for the evening, I turned on some of my favorite piano pieces – mainly Chopin’s meloncholy Nocturnes as played by Maria João Pires – and I replayed them over and over again throughout the entire day.
Once we arrived at Fazioli and picked up the tickets, I had a look at the list of remaining concerts for the 2015-2016 season.
There at the bottom of the list I saw the name of none other than the woman whose Nocturne’s had been lulling me into a trance the whole day: Maria João Pires.
What a thrill to attend the concert. She was so elegant and calm, and her lovely smile lit up the room.
While I was waiting for her to autograph my ticket, she smiled at everyone and answered them in pretty much any language that came at her.
I also had Julien Brocal autograph my event brochure, who played Chopin’s Sonata n.2 in si bemolle minore, op. 35. WOW. An extremely talented young man. He wasn’t even scheduled to perform! The scheduled pianist, a young man from Japan, had unfortunately injured his hand and couldn’t participate in the event. He did attend, however, and watched from the balcony!
The Fazioli concert season runs from fall through late spring, but there are other interesting events that they participate in throughout the year. They sponsered the International Piano Competition of Friuli-Venezia Giulia earlier this year (2016), where a pianoforte was placed on a floating platform on the local river for passersby to enjoy.
I do hope that you will partake in a concert should you ever be in the area when they have a concert. It is a lovely experience!