Frank Benner
piano technician

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piano stories

Life? or Theatre?

Nevertheless, you have the technique and the voice that permit you to be the greatest singer on earth.
You still have the hunger, I just mentioned.
Because of comedy and commitments you have forgotten something like freedom exists.
Do you know Nietzsche line: learn to sing, oh my soul?
What else does it mean then the urge to freedom?
And for me freedom equals singing.
But enough of theory.

Lets start singing.
Bist du bei mir,geh mit Freuden,zum sterben und zu meiner Ruh.

'It sounded a bit unnatural, that's not how you usually sound.
I have to go now but tomorrow morning about ten o'clock you will see me again'

'In the time of professor Klingklangs
I listened often and with pleasure when you played the piano'.

'Oh yes, those where a lot better times.'

Gouaches:Charlotte Salomon, collection: Joods Historisch Museum Amsterdam

Dust on the piano

Breaking Drought

After seventy days
of wind and sun,
of wind and clouds,
of wind and sand,
after seventy days,
of wind and dust,
a little

Let down

I was invited to graduation,
to play the piano.

I couldn't play.
It had been to long.
My hands wouldn't work.
I just sat on the piano bench,
staring down the keys.
Everyone waited.
When the silence went on so long
folks started to whisper,
Arley Wanderdale lowered his head and
Miss Freeland started to cry.
I don't know,
I let them down.

I didn't cry.
Too stubborn.
I got up and walked off the stage.

I thought maybe if my father ever went to Doc Rice
to do something about the spots on his skin,
Doc could check my hands too,
tell me what to do about them.

But my father isn't going to Doc Rice,
and now
I think we're both turning to dust.

May 1935
Karen Hesse


In the kitchen she is my ma,
in the barn and the fields she is my daddy's wife,
but in the parlor Ma is somthing different.
She isn't much to look at,
so long and skinny,
her teeth poor,
her dark hair always needing a wash, but
from the time I was four,
I remember being dazzled by her
whenever she played the piano.

Daddy bought it, an old Cramer,
his wedding gift to her.
She came to this house and found gaps in the walls,
a rusty bed, no running water,
and that piano,
gleaming in the corner.

Daddy gets soft eyes, standing behind her while she
I want someone to look that way at me.

On my fifth birthday,
Ma sat me down beside her
and started me to reading music,
started me to playing.

I'm not half so good as Ma.
She can pull Daddy into the parlor
even after the lat milking, when he's so beat
he barely knows his own name
and all he wants
is a mattress under his bones.
You've got to be something
to get his notice that time of the day,
but Ma can.
I'm not half so good with my crazy playing
as she is with her fine tunes and her
fancy fingerwork.
But I'm good enough for Arley, I guess.

March 1934
Karen Hesse

Poems from: Out of the Dust.

The gloomy thoughts of Billie Jo during the great drought in the 30s in the United States. Billie Jo Kelby is 14 years old and lives with her parents during 'The Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression' in Oklahoma.
Although it is a difficult time and the omnipresent everywhere penetrating dust layer, her life is not so bad.
She has a passion and a talent for 'fierce piano playing.
A talent she inherited from her mother.
After years of waiting to have her mother vainly expecting a baby, maybe the son her father hopes.
But then disaster strikes and Billie Jo has to find her way out of the dust.

Glenn Gould and Errol Garner