Letter to the Editor: Why Ban the Piano?

Heil Byron Au Yong! Down with the piano-elite! There’s a crowd down in the square burning piano music as we speak. Run quickly to show your support for the Manifesto! Pull all those racist, capitalist books all off your shelf! Schubert! Beethoven! The piano-vocal score of Cats! Our Committee for the Promotion of Drums and Vocals will send an Axe Artist to come to your middle-class household and chop up your piano for free. Join the revolution! Pianists who don’t co-operate will be forcibly sent to the countryside to Drum and Vocal Re-education Facilities.

Seriously, folks, don’t you think art-music is marginalized enough in this society, without a righteous diatribe from the inside against the whole family of keyboard instruments? If Byron Au Yong is concerned with racism and class injustice, you’d think he might at least temporarily overlook the limitations of the piano (a 19th-century instrument) and show his support for music education, nationalized health insurance, proper financing of public schools, gay marriage, the defeat of the WTO, and the unionization of Wal-Mart. Or, perhaps he could invent a utopian instrument that could represent these things, with the help of a few far-reaching metaphors. But for goodness sakes, stop picking on us poor pianists and slay a Goliath instead! The piano is already being banished from the fringes of the new music scene here in New York as it is. At best, all many of our experimental venues have is a crappy upright that really should be used as firewood. If we pianists don’t watch out, we’ll be reduced to playing “air piano” in the subway with a tip glass at our feet.

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