letter home i

hi everyone,

the first hints of spring are beginning to show here in northern Hungary.  I am told by locals that we are mere weeks from the expanse of leafless oaks that cover the hills that run along the Danube River all turning green at once.  once that happens, the brief spring will quickly turn into a long and hot summer.

the warmer weather is welcome, but I spend very little time outside these days.  I and the small team here are assisting David Klavins in building his largest creation to date, a 470cm (15 1/2') tall upright grand piano.  the sheer size of the instrument leads to some very interesting logistical issues to be overcome.  right now we're effectively building the parts of the piano in two locations for the simple reason that the instrument is too big to even stand up in our normal workshop.  the hardest parts of the job are mostly completed, now that the piano's soundboard (which runs the entire width and height of the instrument) has been laminated together and attached to the frame.  once the piano is finished, I'll be heading to Latvia to assist with its installation into a brand-new concert hall just outside Riga.

my few spare moments are spent are mostly spent quietly and in solitude.  before work on the big piano started, I would go running along the Danube after work, but now I mostly come home late, wash the sawdust out of my hair, and relax.  the large box of stuff I shipped to myself from California just arrived last week, containing many of my musical instruments, which I've managed to arrange into a haphazard corner of the room I'm staying in, but most of my musical time is stolen during down moments at the piano workshop, where I have access to some truly spectacular acoustic pianos.

the summer will bring many exciting things.  Manon will be relocating to her company's office in Torino, Italy in June, bringing us much closer to each other.it's been difficult for both of us to be apart, but we were able to escape our respective lives a few weeks ago and briefly flee to Mexico, where we got sunburned, relaxed, and engaged(!!!).  we will be jumping back and forth between our respective regions of Europe to see each other initially and it is our plan to be spending the bulk of our time together by the time autumn rolls around, but the exact contours of how we make that happen are yet to solidify.

I'll be leaving the sleepy town of Vac to find an apartment in Budapest sometime this summer as well, where I'll set up a more permanent home for myself, my cat, and Manon when she is able to work remotely to Italy.  work should relax after the big piano is finished, allowing both for some experiments in the workshop and hopefully for more weekend excursions.  David and I have worked out a plan to build a very small piano using harp strings instead of the normal steel piano strings—allowing us to build something much lighter and more portable with a soft and unique sound.  I am a brief train trip from Vienna, and I am equally close to Bratislava, Slovakia and Brno, Czechia, both of which contain some interesting music communities and instrument builders that I want to explore more.

I think of all of you often and look forward the next time we will meet,