In May, I disappeared from my website to enjoy playing the piano. Being asked to perform at private functions on beautiful grand pianos in beautiful places is a pleasure not to be missed. My various audiences in salon-like venues were keen to hear mixed programmes of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Granados, Debussy, Satie and Gershwin, but also pleased to begin with a ‘cocktail hour’ of improvisations on jazz ‘standards’ and musicals.
These performance experiences, with a cross-fertilisation of people, musical periods and styles, made me realise how much we need to re-develop The Salon. Bringing together people from various fields (artistic and scientific) within informal, intimate spaces certainly generates a sense of suspended excitement that we rarely encounter in the everyday superficiality of life.
Such regular ‘happy hours’ of creativity and conversation in salons were of course an important part of the fabric of life in 18th and 19th centuries – the Paris salon of George Sand and Frederick Chopin being a fine example – with the gathered artists, poets, authors, and musicians offering their latest creations. These ‘offerings’ would later become published and exhibited to a wider audience – the gifts we still enjoy today.
Another version of the salon is the ‘open house’. Have you had such experiences or heard of such experiences? I’d love to hear your comments. Carmel Liertz