Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elton's Magical Piano On Show in Canada

It’s fairly quiet most days in the large exhibition hall of the Cantos Music Foundation in Calgary, but when a visiting musician steps through the doors, the place comes alive.

With more than 700 musical artifacts – from centuries-old harpsichords to Elton John’s piano to the synthesizer that played those famous notes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind – the foundation is becoming a popular stop for musicians touring to the city.

Elton John used this 1910 British piano to compose his first four albums, including hits such as Your Song, Levon and Tiny Dancer. The American version of his album Empty Sky features a photo of John sitting in front of it.

In 1972, John gave the piano to neighbours, filmmaker Bryan Forbes and his family, and signed it for them. “Original piano/Lots of success with it,” he wrote.

His songwriting partner Bernie Taupin signed it as well: “Within this piano lay the ghosts of 100 songs. Take care of them. They love you.”

The piano is signed elsewhere by John, but that signature is barely visible. There’s talk of getting him to autograph it again if he ever visits. John did mention the piano onstage at a Calgary concert earlier this spring, but he hasn’t paid a personal visit, though his keyboard technician and two of his former keyboardists have.

The upright, which is roped off, is not of very high quality, but it’s probably the biggest draw at the museum. “It’s not a magnificent piano,” says Leimseider. “But it’s a magical piano.”

- The Globe & Mail

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