mardi, octobre 02, 2007


I was 9 years old when I decided to learn piano. We already had one piano at home, which keys were ivory yellow, not hard and which sound I loved. My piano teacher, Jean-Yves Haefflinger, opened his music school in front of the primary school, close to the boulangerie where we used to buy candies (my favorite one was called Curly Wurly and I also loved the Malakoff). The piano teacher was a real professional with an immense talent for the organ and the accordeon. Every week-end with his bal populaire band, they played in the villages around Mulhouse for entertaining the villageois. Many of these bals populaires ended up in bagarres. The journal L'Alsace, on monday, had regularly a column about persons killed in the Zimmersheim, the Eschentzwiller, the .............heim or the ...............willer bal. After one year of serious piano learning, my reputation as a gifted kid encouraged my parents and the teacher to accelerate the process of learning and start with piano competition.

The first competition took place in Kingersheim, in 1976. The piece I had to learn and play, Le Petit prince, wasn't difficult but the notes became slippery, the closer to the competition we got. The formidable day came. There was a man at the Kingersheim hall who proposed the parents to record their kid's session on a 45 rpm, with only one side engraved. My father who accompanied me, accepted and I remember that he paid 50 francs (around 10 euros) for it. It was a terrible moment to get on the stage and play Le Petit Prince. But eventually, I received a price and 92% of the voices plus a diploma, which meant that I was selected for the next step of the competition in Brussels, the next year...

I had started the piano for about 18 months and was preparing Beethoven's Letter to Elisa; Brussels was approaching and I couldn't play it well, always stumbling on the double croche passage. The teacher was more and more demanding, he scared me, maybe he was disappointed by the hardness of a job that I couldn't carry out. I was overwhelmed by fear, a fear that turned to terror: this wasn't me, this whole project of playing piano competitions wasn't mine. So why and how did it start? Later on I went on thinking that earning a price was a bonus for the school, not for the kid... The day before leaving to Brussels, my soma found a solution: I became sick, fever kept me in bed and we had to cancel my participation. A few days later when I recovered, I convinced my parents to stop making me learn piano. We never made clear the link between this decision and the competition angst, which was sad because I could have progressed more, without this tremendous stress.


Florence Manlik's design for the Spring/Summer 08 Robert Normand collection).