Piano Story : Meet The Pleyel in Sao Paulo

Five months agoI left home to play the first piano of this blog. Since then I began to understand that this musical search would be a dip in the great sea of ​​things that is São Paulo.

I think I still sail through clear waters and wait anxiously for the fucking waters of this deep city. This is my 10th piano and I now notice how its strings seem to be intertwined forming the sail that sails SaoPaulo. Today’s post talks about the first story of this city. Where São Paulo became a caravel. We are in the Pateo do Collegio, where the first house ofthis city was built.

Everything in the Pateo do Colégio has the grandeur of time, the piano that isthere could not be different. It is a piano of black tail of the French brand  Pleyel. It was donated in the 80’s by a lady from the São Paulo elite. She andher husband were churchgoers. He was of the “Order of the Knights of St.Paul” and she of the “Women Ladies of St. Paul”, social entities that every day January 25 anniversary of the city appeared in huge white cloaksin the Church.

ignace pleyel

The Pleyel piano factory was founded in 1795 by Ignaz Playel who was a pianistand composer, as well as a personal friend of Haydn. After his death the business was in the hands of his son Camille, also a pianist. He was also agreat cultural agitator of the time, organized soirees in the halls, these musical performances turned out to be new talents, a newbie that was that appeared there was Frédéric Chopin. Chopin and Camille became friends and the celebrated pianist came to be sponsored by the brand. With an excellent eye for talent, Camille sponsored Liszt, Franck, Debussy, Grieg, Ravel, Thalberg, DeFalla and Stravinsky. Everyone gave their “canjas” in these soirees.

 This contact with musical performance peaked in 1927 when the factory, to celebrate its centenary of tradition, opened Salle Pleyel the largest concert hall of the time. However,nine months after his birth, a fire nearly ended it all. The room had to be sold to a French bank that raised the rubble and made Salle Pleyel one of the largest in Paris. It was there that Stravinsky was with Agon in 1958.

The brand was Steinway of the time, and invented numerous patents in the construction of pianos. It was they who first used the iron plate inside the piano that supports the strings. Before this plate was made of wood. The piano of Pateo do Colégio is one of these old models. The pegs, which are the keys that allow you to control the tension of the strings are also made of wood. The result is a much darker and more closed sound. The piano needs a good makeover, mainly because of its historical character. The pedal does not respond very well, some bass keys sometimes lock, the tuning is on the limit, but you can have fun yes and it is very worthwhile to check out that old sound, besides seeing the wooden board, which even painted to imitate Iron, can not hide. He stays in an amphitheater for meetings and lectures, to touch him and talk to the reception staff.

I played the 1942 classic, At the foot of the Santa Cruz, by Marino Pinto and Zé da Zilda. Both lived in Rio de Janeiro and were great composers of carnival hits and songs for the radio. Marino Pinto is the same author of “Nós os Carecas” (Zeca da Zilda, a samba artistfrom Mangueira, formerly known as Zé com Famo, married Zilda and became Zé daZilda, the wife, with whom maintained a duo turned Zilda of the Zé. The song fell on the mouth of the people in the voice of Orlando Silva and was laterre-recorded in the bible of the Brazilian albums “Chega de Saudades”of 1958 by João Gilberto.

The Pateo do Colégio is a true oasis in the center of the city, outside that madness of cars and hurried people, in the complexes of the Pateo, where the Anchieta Museum works the Biblioteca Pe.Antonio Vieira,the Church and a charming coffee time seems not pass, and best of all, it’s asilence …

My host was the chapel master there, Felipe Bernardo. One is astonished who thinks that the chapel master is a bearded old man, Felipe is 25 years old and is all modern.Which does not stop him from being an organist and passionate about choral singing. He has been in the church since he was nine. Born in Botucatu, in the interior of the state (ahh the migrants …) he has participated since the choir of Santa Marcelina College there, was present since the first rehearsal and accompanied for 12 years the choir that was already invited to sing in Brasilia in 2005, after in the US in 2008 and last year in Rome and Portugal.It was during the rehearsals of the rehearsal that he was listening to the organ’s CDs of the conductor and began to fall in love with the instrument. Afew years have passed and he is the young man behind the immense organ of the Church of the Pateo of the College that has mass at noon every day, all very full. Mass is given by Fr. Carlos Alberto Contieri is a success! Without being appealing, as is currently being practiced, the Pateo do Colégio is building prestige and becoming a reference in choral singing and the current sacred music.

Next to the cafe there is stilla wall of the first church building dating from 1585, made of pylon clay, a constructive technique of Iberian origin, which is nothing more than pounding in a humid earth pestle and adding plant fibers, sand , manure, whale oil,sometimes replaced by animal blood, until it becomes a mass. It served as are in forcement to a wooden structure, when the dough dried, the wood is removed and there is your wall. A kind of great-great-grandfather of cement.

The Jesuits, Father Manuel de Paiva, Fr Afonso Brás and Brother José de Anchieta could scarcely imagine how much cement was going to spread through these lands when they celebrated the first Mass officiating the foundation of the College of St. Paul of Piratininga on January25 from 1554 in a stick-to-chop hut with about 90 square meters. They settled in that region because it was a safe spot, located high up could be seen the movement of the Indians. The Jesuits were expelled from the site in 1640 by disagreements with the bandeirantes, they returned in 1653, the College had already been totally modified having to be rebuilt. In 1759 they were expelled again for political reasons, having only 3 days to leave Brazil, returning toEurope literally in their body clothes. The place became the Palace of the Governors and the construction was modified again. The Society of Jesus was suspended in 1773, expelling all Jesuits from America and the world. It was restored by Pope Pius VII in 1814. In the absence of the Jesuits the whole site was demolished in 1896, the high altar that had been there since 1680 was taken to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Mary which is in Santa Cecilia. It was only in 1953 that the site was returned to the priests as one of the initial milestones of the city’s 400th anniversary celebration. Finally, in 1979 the Pateodo Colégio was inaugurated as we know it today, with the historical site, the Anchieta Museum and the Church of Blessed Jose de Anchieta in the shape of the church demolished in the 19th century.

Music has a mysterious power to unite people. This power can not be explained rationally, it comes in another order. I am not are ligious person, but the best word that comes to mind is faith. It is with the music that I connect with what is inside of me and with something that I believe to be superior to everything, but I do not give any name. It is with her that I establish the most sincere relationship with the people who are by my side. I think maybe that’s religion. An enchantment that takes you from the body. It was this musical enchantment that the Jesuits used as their first contact with the Indians. Imagine the abyss of difference between one people and another.

São Paulo is 458 years old and it makes me think about how many stories it takes to make history, to be in books and to betaught in schools. How many weddings between Indians and whites, Portuguese,blacks, Italians, and all the people who came and built their huts along side that of the Jesuit’s 90 square meters, made of pylon clay. After the mud thecement, the asphalt, and the city that rose on top of this forest, spread likean octopus, plunging its tentacles to the sides, into the earth and upwards.

They imagined the three priests as they prayed their Our Father and their Hail Marys in the Mass that marks the birth of St.Paul the size that this would take?

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