Is There Really a Baby Grand Piano Sitting on a Bluff in Half Moon Bay?

Yes, but after 30 days the piano will be “cremated” during its final performance.

What could be more majestic than a baby grand piano sitting on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at sunset in Half Moon Bay? Put a talented musician at the keys, and you’ve got a scene that's believable only if you see it with your own eyes, which you can — but not for long.

Every night during the month of February Half Moon Bay artist and musician Mauro Ffortissimo will play the same “Sonate” at sunset on the baby grand which is located on the bluffs at the end of Kelly Avenue in Half Moon Bay near Enso, the art gallery and yoga studio. It’s called a “Sunset Piano” art installation. A plaque posted next to the piano lists organizations that have supported Ffortissimo's work in the past such as the Coastal Commission, Sierra Club, Peninsula Foundation, City of Half Moon Bay, Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, the Djerassi Foundation, and Coastal Art League.

According to a Facebook post on Enso, “Mauro was given the piano by new homeowners who found it abandoned in their living room. Deemed too rusty to ever be re-tuned, Mauro decided the piano should spend its dying days with a view of the sea.”

The plan is to play the piano as it continues to weather and go out of tune, eventually demolishing it.

Ffortissimo, who lives at the end of Kelly Avenue, not only plays the piano well, he plays it loud and calls himself a “piano liberator,” liberating the instrument from its construction by playing the insides of the piano not the keys. The inspiration came to him years ago when he was cleaning up his piano one day in San Francisco. He took the keyboard apart and started to pluck the strings. He liked what he heard and never put the piano back.

Today, Ffortissimo plays both the inside and the outside of the piano. Knowing this, it's a wonder if he will actually cremate the piano like he says he will or salvage pieces of it for his art.

Very moving, raw footage called “Sunset in the Life of a Grand Piano” from the first concert performed on Feb. 2 was shot by photographer Lars Howlett and can be seen here.

Alsace Lorraine resident Bill Grout also made a video, which is attached to this article, for his daughter Claire Rietmann-Grout. The piano is on the same bluff as a bench that’s dedicated in loving memory of Claire's mother, Kearney Rietmann. Grout is very thankful to the “dear artist who put the piano on the bluff” right in front of the bench. He even went out there today to play the piano himself.

"Claire’s mom passed 11 years ago today," said Grout, "and it was a great pleasure to find a piano out before her memorial bench on the bluffs."

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Laura McHugh February 06, 2013 at 07:09 AM
Performance art in Half Moon Bay. Brilliant Mauro.
Elida Oettel February 06, 2013 at 10:12 PM
This piano was not abandoned. It was given to the new homeowners so that it could be retuned and continue to be loved and used. Unfortunately when the professional tuner came it was decided it would be too expensive to replace the rusted wires.
Kathy Betts February 08, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Michaele Benedict February 11, 2013 at 04:58 PM
"Too expensive" is the key word here. The piano should have been donated to someone who would have been willing to pay $500 to restore it instead of being deliberately destroyed. (Elida was the piano's previous owner, by the way.)
Joan S. Dentler February 11, 2013 at 05:42 PM
I'd love to come "over the hill" from Belmont to see this. Does anyone have a suggestion on a good place to park and a good place to stand?


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