Piano no. 19, Dada Bar, Veliko Tarnovo

Up next was a bus ride to Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria.

Situated on three hills along the Yantra river, Veliko Tarnovo has some breathtaking views, great traditional and historical atmosphere, as well as lots of cats and old ladies taking care of them.

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I stayed in the city for a whole month, visiting also the nearby villages and wandering in the nature, which is truly amazing: hills, springs, waterfalls, caves, etc. I also learnt to read cyrillic letters, which was a nice bonus.

The first piano I found was found in the balcony of a place called Dada bar. The piano has been on the balcony for quite some time, since the previous owners of the bar brought it there. I was warned that it is in a bad condition, but of course that didn’t stop me. :)

So, not knowing what I’m gonna get, we went to capture the measure 19 of the song at the Dada bar. As you can see in the video, you can conveniently enter the balcony of the bar directly via stairs from the backside. Nice!

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Piano no. 18, Nardis Jazz Club, Istanbul

After saying goodbye to Berlin for a while, I headed to Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul is a bustling city with lots of people. I stayed in the very crowded area of Istiklal street and Taksim square. There is music everywhere; you can actually navigate by the different street musicians.

Saturday there was a huge football-related celebration going on, with people shooting fireworks and setting up bonfires on the streets. I also found a cool music and spoken word event organised for the support of refugees.

When people go to sleep, cats rule the streets.

Finding a piano took some time and searching, however. After visiting some music clubs and asking around, I was directed to Nardis Jazz Club, and got to record the first Yamaha of the quest.

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Piano no. 17, Myslbek, Prague

Besides searching for pianos, we also had time for some sightseeing. The castle was an obvious place to see, and hanging at the Vltava river is always fun. I also like the district of Žižkov a lot. It is an old working-class district which used to be independent, left-wing, bohemian, somewhat rough and proud about it.

There is also a cool looking TV-tower in Žižkov:

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Following a hint by a friend we met, we found also one more piano. This one was in Myslbek shopping gallery, close to the old town.

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Piano no. 16, Prague railway station

The next public piano took some more time to find. First, we were in a wrong place, and when we finally reached the right place, the railway station, we could not find the piano there.

After contacting Piána na Ulici, we found out that they were just about to install the piano on the railway station this exact day, in an hour!

We went back to the station, and tried to catch the installation. We waited for some time, but, we missed it. After a lunch we came back, and found that the piano had appeared!!!

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Searching for Pianos in Berlin

Here is one extra video for your enjoyment, about the challenges one encounters when searching for pianos in Berlin.

See what kind of MacGyver-like skills are needed in the quest, and see how Tommi finds out that the S-Bahn are on strike again…

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Piano no. 15, New Town Hall, Prague

Next city to visit was the lovely Prague. Before arriving, I found out via a friend living there about Piána na ulici (pianos on the street) project. They install pianos in public places for people to play and enjoy creating and hearing music.

So, I arrived in Prague, this time accompanied by Annika (who also has designed the graphics for the 100-piano quest), and we started looking for the street pianos, not forgetting also to enjoy the city!

The first one we located easily at the New Town Hall / cafe Neustadt, not far away from the hostel where we stayed.

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Piano no. 14, Bella Sky Bar, Copenhagen

This piano looked so interesting in the pictures that I just HAD to get to play it. So, I took the metro south towards the Bella Sky Hotel, preparing to use all my charm on the reception staff.

And…success!!! I scored!!! We set up a date with the piano for Sunday morning.

The fabulous piano is a German Blüthner grand pimped by the famous Danish designer Poul Henningsen (1894-1967) in the 30s. (As a curiosity for fellow Finns, our design icon Alvar Aalto owned one of these pianos.)

The piano actually plays and sounds great. The looks? I think the design looks surprisingly modern, kind of timeless, though I’d still prefer the traditional looks for my living room :)

For this video, I also improvised a homage to another famous Dane, the great late Victor Borge.

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Piano no. 13, Cafe Intime, Copenhagen

Next city on my journey was Copenhagen, where I stayed for several days.

Copenhagen is in my mind always connected to jazz, maybe it could be called “the jazz capital” of Scandinavia. With this in mind, I began searching for jazz clubs and other places for pianos, and with some online searching and asking around, found quite many.

However, I found many challenges along the way. The first place I visited, had a grand piano, BUT, it was bolted shut and modified into a fancy table for DJ-equipment. O tempora o mores!!!

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Another interesting looking place, the Library Bar, was closed for renovation at the moment.

Other challenges included opening time conflicts with my schedule, and places not allowing me to make the recording for variety of reasons.

But, despite these setbacks I found two extremely interesting places and pianos, and here is the first one.

Cafe Intime, founded in 1922, used to be the first gay bar in the city. Now, it has a diverse audience, kind of a family feel among the regulars, and very open-minded attitude towards visitors, not to mention one of the friendliest staffs I’ve ever seen! There is a cassically nice interior and atmosphere, and the grand piano in the corner is an integral part of it.

The piano is Hindsberg, a Danish piano manufacturer active from mid-1800s to mid-1900s. The regulars call this piano Miss Hindsberg, so it is definitely part of the family :)

There is also live piano music quite often, jazz, swing, and classic danish songs, with the whole bar singing along. Great stuff, good times!

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No. 12, Hepcat’s Corner, Berlin

My favourite thing in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin where I have lived for 8 months now is definitely the Landwehrkanal, a canal running through Berlin parallel to the Spree river.

Landwehrkanal brings some needed stillness of nature to this busy part of Kreuzberg (and the northern tip of Neukölln). On a fine day you can see many people hanging out at the banks of the canal, others jogging, biking or walking their dogs. Couple of times during the week there is also a Turkish Market with vast selection of things, foodstuff, apparel, jewelry, fabrics, etc…

Along the channel there is also a swing music themed cafe called Hepcat’s Corner, where there are often swing dance events as well as Sunday brunches and silent movies with piano accompaniment. That means, of course, that there is a piano there.

I went there one fine day to record the measure number 12 of my piece.

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Piano number 11, Pod Gruszka, Kraków

Sunday afternoon is beginning, and the pianist is a bit tired and slow after the Saturday night out.

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