Reminiscing about Billy Mayerl

7th August 2013 | Concerts, Daily Life, Musings | 3 comments

Someone has drawn my attention to the fact that last Saturday, in the Family section of the Guardian, a reader submitted a favourite recipe along with a recollection of her childhood, in which her late mother played the piano music of Billy Mayerl on the family’s beloved upright piano. The reader, Nikki Copleston, mentioned that she had not heard Mayerl’s music for many years until she came across my recording in a charity shop, bought it, listened to it, and was whisked back to a summer evening long ago, listening to the jaunty sounds of her mother playing Mayerl while the children sat outside on the lawn.

Nikki Copleston’s recolllection is here. You can listen to clips of Mayerl playing, and also of me.

I loved every bit of Nikki’s story except for the fact that she found my recording ‘in a charity shop’, but let that pass. It’s delightful to know that Billy Mayerl’s music can evoke the happy days of childhood.

I have been practising some of his pieces this morning, in preparation for playing one or two in a late-night concert this Saturday as part of the Cerne Abbas Music Festival. I’m hoping to play ‘Scallywag’, one of his most technically difficult pieces and one which I believe he never recorded himself. It jumps around all over the keyboard and I’ve discovered that you can’t play it if you don’t have good posture, or at least good balance, at the piano. It’s just too difficult to move your hands very fast in opposite directions if you’re not physically ‘grounded’. A good reason to think about posture!


  1. Mary

    My late mother-in-law once had a small grand piano that was played on by Billy Mayerl. He had autographed the inside of the lid with: “This is a nice piano”. I didn’t understand who Billy Mayerl was the first time I heard the story,then I discovered your passion for his music and was able to listen to it. Don’t be sad about Nikki finding your recording in a charity shop – it might just be that the donor has moved on with technology and doesn’t use that format any more. On the positive side you now have a new fan!

  2. Mary

    Just followed the link to Nikki’s recollection – what a fabulous clip of Mayerl performing in every sense of the word (especially the eyebrows), and with comments from his dog too! And I’ve been inspired to find a Loose Elbows CD online to buy. Old technology is still perfect for the car.

  3. Nikki Copleston

    Mary, I am a big fan of CDs, which I love to play in their entirety while I’m writing or driving. No iPod for me (yet) – hence my regular browsing of charity shop shelves. I too was thrilled that the Guardian added the video and sound clips to the online version of my piece. My mum would have been right chuffed!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *