It’s Piano Day today, and to mark the occasion, we thought we’d have a chat with Lubomyr Melnyk, resident pioneer of continuous music. We wrote to him with some questions, hoping to get a sense of his relationship to the instrument. What was the first piano piece he remembers hearing? Which composers occupy a special place in his heart? Who or what inspired his unique style; those unbroken reams of notes, and the sustained resonances which hover above them?
The response came as a surprise. Luboymr asked if instead, he could write a tribute to the instrument. Naturally, we agreed. Shortly afterwards we received his crie de coeur which we’re now delighted to share with you. In an age of mass production and mass wastage, it’s above all a plea for care and gratitude:
"I must apologize for not answering the questions. But there’s a reason why I haven’t done that. It’s because on Piano Day, I think we should not forget the actual instrument and not dwell too much on me. After all, it’s the piano’s day today, not mine.
So my thoughts are very deep and full of love for the piano. All pianos; big ones, small ones, great ones, humble ones. All of them are a divine gift to humanity. But people don’t understand that nor are they willing to accept and say thank you to God for this great gift. Instead, people in some countries – like Sweden and Canada – are actually burning pianos and throwing them outside in the garbage dump.
Killing their pianos. It’s horrible. It’s unbelievable. There are so many children all over the world in need of a piano and these people are just throwing them away. Huge 300 kilo instruments that took 250 years to perfect, and a deep, profound knowledge of how to make the steel: the beautiful steel that makes that beautiful sound. Everything is dying, even the knowledge.
Soon no one will know how to make a piano, and all the machinery will have been destroyed. Like the lacquering machines that made the old Hi-Fi. Hundreds of these precious machines destroyed and burned. The greatest piece of human sound technology in all our history - the analogue Hi-Fi lacquering machine – burned up and thrown away, without even thinking.
So it is on Piano Day, I want to remind the world to love every piano as I love them, and to treasure every one forever."
In these images of burned-out machinery, Lubomyr presents a vision of human recklessness. It’s a timely reminder for us to appreciate what we have, and not to squander our accomplishments.
When it comes to the piano, artistry does not lie solely with the pianist, but with the makers too. Building a piano is a complex, multi-staged process; there are rims to be pressed, soundboards to be laid, strings to be tuned, hammers to be fitted and much more besides. It’s a craft to be cherished.
Download a free new Nils Frahm EP 'Solo Remains', create, record and share beautiful piano sounds, hear this year's Piano Day playlist featuring new piano songs by Michael Price, Ólafur Arnalds and Rival Consoles, and find out more details on the many events taking place around the world today, including this year’s ‘Give a Piano’ theme via www.pianoday.org