What remains of their finery ? Blown away marble, disemboweled fireplaces, torn hangings…
Faced with Romain Thiery’s lens, these great houses have lost their glory. However, lurking in the shadows, astonishing wood and cast iron monsters with lacquered skin display their toothless smiles with ivory reflections. These pianos are the soul of the place, too heavy objects to be moved that the photographer unceasingly tracks down « even in the middle of a ruined space, the piano never ceases to preserve its power. He is there, he thrones with all his nobility. » The production of this series doesn’t leave anything to chance. It offers Romain Thiery the privilege of combining two passions, image and music. Amateur pianist fulfilled by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven or Satie, he also observes his mother, a photographer, exploring the heritage of Périgord.
In 2008, it was love at first sight. On the heights of Périgueux, a mother and son discovered a small 19th century castle. « Everything was destroyed, empty ». On the first floor I discovered a piano, in the middle of a destroyed room. The fireplace was broken. Valuables and treasure had already disappeared. There was only this piano left. I thought there must be more. » Romain Thiery holds the idea. He sets out on a quest to find these silent giants. He spent five years patiently establishing his network across Europe into various sections including music, real estate, heritage and associations.
His dedication paid off. Since 2014, he has discovered more than a hundred pianos, in as many places of stunning beauty.
Then I try at least to play on the keyboards, to make them resonate when possible », to make those Steinway, Pleyel, Bechstein or Erard vibrate one last time lying in varying states of dilapidation.
Then he notes the piano’s serial number, if it exists. Because Romain put his unique expertise at the service of the Musique & Spoliations association, founded by Pascale Bernheim and Corinne Hershkovitch, which has set itself the task of finding the instruments looted by Sonderstab Music, the « Commando Musique », created in August 1940 in France by the Nazi regime. The precious information collected is passed on to the association, which crosses its references with its archives so as to piece together the history of the instrument.
© 2014-2022 Romain Thiery, tous droits réservés/reproduction interdite