The Piano Harp

More than a hundred years ago, a master craftsman in Leipzig built a piano whose harp would eventually become the orchestra’s very own Forgotten Fish harp. The original piano was sold to a well-to-do family in Dresden where, throughout the 30s, it was used to accompany the singing of hymns and songs of fervour in general. This picture of domestic bliss was shattered at the end of the second world war with the bombing of Dresden. Almost the entire city was demolished including the house where the piano stood. The piano itself toppled against a wall, creating a small air pocket in the rubble big enough to allow the protection and survival of the smallest members of the family.

During the ‘50s, an enterprising Russian soldier arranged to move the piano to an officers club in east Berlin where its repertoire was widened to include Ukrainian folk melodies and Odessan drinking songs.With the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the building was liberated by anarchists and squatters who used the body of the piano as barricading material. The metal harp was saved due to the prodigious efforts of some individual members of Forgotten Fish,who managed to transport this enormous entity to the Fish Tank, the secret location where they rehearse, record music, store their instruments and make their costumes. It was discovered that somewhere in its long and circuitous journey, the piano had lost one of its notes, it had eighty seven – not eighty eight. We guessed it might have happened during the Dresden bombing. Anyway they have been looking for that note ever since, so far without success. I thought I heard the note once whilst listening to a Moroccan radio station in Marseilles, but it was only a ships horn in the harbour.

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