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Rafael Viñoly, Architecture’s Piano Man


Starchitect Rafael Viñoly excels at designing performance spaces (e.g., Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts), but we had no idea that he brings a musician’s eye to his work. According to Robert Hilferty‘s piece in today’s New York Sun, when not overseeing his firm’s 250 employees (scattered among offices in New York, London, Los Angeles, and soon, Dubai), Viñoly can be found playing the piano, collecting pianos (around ten at last count), and listening to others play, preferably in Carnegie Hall. But ix-nay on the obby-hay! “I never thought this was a hobby,” he told the Sun. “It’s not an entertainment. It’s a rare combination of pleasure and suffering.” For Viñoly, the “piano pavilion” that he built on his property in Water Mill, New York, is “better than a swimming pool, better than a tennis court.” Meanwhile, at the age of 63, he has recently started taking piano lessons again with the hope of polishing up his Mozart.

“‘You want to play Mozart?’” he said, quoting his teacher. “‘This is like walking naked on Fifth Avenue, so you have to be in good shape. Because you can’t hide anything.’” He’s also learning Chopin‘s G minor Ballade; Beethoven‘s Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 101; Six Little Piano Pieces by Schoenberg, and Schumann‘s “Kreisleriana,” which he says is “one of the most difficult pieces on the face of the earth.”

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