Monalia's World

Observations on a New Life in Spain

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Flip side of winter in L.A.

2 July, 2014 (05:53) | Living in Europe | By: admin

View from my piano as I look out the window and play it.

My Baldwin Baby Grand piano lives here full time. Its the first piano I’ve ever played and has been in the family since I was 4 years old. Luckily I’ve managed to hang on to it all these years. Mark has a sonorous classical flamenco guitar he leaves here as well. They have been patiently awaiting us and the reunion feels like magic.

I play a medley of Beethoven, Brahms, Schuman and Bill Evans, strung together by my own compositions, written and played only on that piano. Its an emotional reunion for me – tears roll down my cheek as I play. I miss my mother – L.A. Is just weird without her. For the last 10 years all my visits to Los Angeles have been centered around her availability. I miss her, and cry, and play my soul to the Hollywood sign. Its going to take some emotional adjustment on my part to be thankful instead of sad. And I sure have a lot to be thankful for.

I begin practicing and playing my scales and arpeggios . What a wonderful instrument! Suddenly I feel like a musician again. The Baldwin faces a big picture window with a pristine view of the Hollywood sign.

My favorite pastime is to play whatever comes through my fingers as I am playing. I can only do this when alone though, so I find myself waiting for Mark to go out to do errands so I can lose myself in music like I did as a child. Its only this piano, which I first played when I was 4 years old, that brings forth such inspired music from me.

My family used to entertain on this piano at parties, though I was the only one who took to playing it. Sometimes my mom threw big gala events and sometimes just an informal dinner. My piano was always in use at these happenings, for after a delicious meal with plenty of good wine someone invariably would start playing the piano and singing. Most of our guests were either Italian or else they were my Dad’s clients (often one and the same).

One memorable evening in the early 60’s Benito Mussolini’s son Romano was a guest at our house. He was a jazz pianist, had nothing to do with Il Duce other than being his youngest son. We were told he was married to the sister of Sofia Loren, which had all our imaginations going. We were disappointed when a very fat Romano Mussolini showed up at the door. He had big moles on his face and was wearing big, unattractive, round glasses. He was accompanied by a squatty, square shaped wife with a sharp pitched edgy voice, who bore no resemblance at all to her famous, voluptuous sister Sofia. My sister and I were expecting a more glamorous looking couple. But once he sat down to play the piano, I must say he did a pretty darn good boogie woogie, for an Italian. It was fun. We were told he was a well known jazz pianist.

I just love these modern times we live in; As I write this blog I am able to come up with links and info to fill in the info about Mussolini’s son that I was too young to have known when he graced out home. Romano Mussolini There are also several YouTube videos of him. Cool.

A more frequent guest at my mom’s soiree’s was Italian well known (in Italy) crooner Renato Carosone, considered among the greatest figures of the Italian music scene in the second half of the 20th century. He would gregariously sit at the piano and bray … I mean sing his repertoire of lively songs, which many of the ladies knew by heart. It could get quite lively when he played. Here I just found this YouTube video of him which looks to be filmed in the early 60’s. This video brings it all back to me:


A few weeks into our stay in L.A we have a visit by our friend and Partners in Rhyme assistant, Jordi, from Barcelona.

The visit is brief but fun – fun to show off our L.A. lifestyle to a buddy like Jordi. He jumps onto my piano and jams with Mark.

1) Sitting around the BBQ deck with Jordi 2) Later Sol comes up to see our place and for a photo op. We wish he could stay longer, but even just the one afternoon was a magical one. We don’t have nearly as many friends in Barcelona as we do here in L.A., but the ones we do have are phenomenal and we’re lucky to have them.