The 16th of December 2011 was the beginning of it all, the Preludio of Piano City Milano took place. It was an extremly cold night, when inside the Mascheroni barracks, a thirty-pianists marathon foreshowed Piano City Milano.
A few months later, in may 2012, Piano Twelve, Vinicio Capossela and a wet piano opened the festival’s first edition. It was the first time so many citizens opened the doors of their homes to host concerts all around the city to let the audience experience a new way of listening to music and socialize.
In 2013 an ensemble of twenty-one pianos opened the festival at the Rotonda della Besana with a symphony for 1848 keys by Daniele Lombardi. The festival grows to encompas the whole city, also getting on trams and ferryboats of Navigli.
In 2014 “Le Piano Africain” by Ludovico Einaudi who played with eight musicians on a three-leveled stage in Parco Sempione kicked off the third edition. The event remains to this day in the memory of the audience.
In 2015 it was the German pianist, composer and Academy Awards nominee Hauschka to play the first notes of the fourth edition. Piano City Milano reaches Expo and the Darsena, which was opened to the public especially for the occasion.
Michael Nyman in 2016 in the garden of the Galleria d’Arte Moderna opened the first non-stop edition of the festival: fifty uninterrupted hours of music. The festival this time included even more social ventures, increased the presence in more peripheral quarters and inaugurated a second Piano Center opening, the Palazzina Liberty for the entire night with electronic contaminations.
In 2017 it was Jason Beck, aka Chilly Gonzales, Canadian musician, pianist, composer, songwriter but also producer, rapper and brilliant essayist, who, together with the Daft Punk, was awarded a Grammy Award. The following dawn Michael Nyman performed his farewell piano solo concert.
In 2018 Aziza Mustafa Zadeh opens the Festival, Azeri by birth but citizen of all arts: pianist, composer, singer and painter. The artist presents her magic garden to Piano City Milano, perennially poised between composition and improvisation, classics and contemporaries influences, and, above all, her musical loam is scattered with an evergreen gemmation of “mugham”, an intricate pattern of modes and melodic fragments from ancient Persia, now recognized by UNESCO as Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Icelandic pianist Ólafur Arnalds with two, upright pianos remotely controlled by a mother-keyboard. The 2019 confirms the festival chemistry with its audience despite the heavy rainfalls. The concert in the Rogoredo woods reinforces the festival’s vocation of listening to the city.
If Milanese people could not go towards the music, is the music going towards them. In the year when everything stopped due to Covid-19, Piano City Milano, together with its partners and pianists, could not leave the city without its support to the citizens. Local and international artists played and streamed from home, around the city’streets with a Piano Tandem and a Piano Risciò, or from symbolic venues of Milan.
2021 is the 10th birthday of the festival. It has been a restart for the city of Milan. The event included 100 concerts all around the city especially in symbolic venues. 4 of these concerts took place in the Teatro Lirico di Milano, opened for the first time again since 1999.
The 11th edition of Piano City Milano opened with Abdullah Ibrahim, a living legend of jazz. 216 concerts took place in over 100 different locations all over Milan, the suburbs and in new and very meaningful places such as the garden of Ludovico di Breme, Lampo Scalo Farini and the Ex Macello.
“You are not ended, until you have a good story to tell” and “Novecento” (first theatre play, then turned into a book and a movie) keeps on producing more than good ones. For the opening of Piano City Milano 2023 the novel became a live-show: a contest between Jelly Roll Morton and “Novecento” performed by Stefano Bollani at the piano and narrated by Alessandro Baricco.
Through the years the festival has searched for new and unconventional venues to describe the city: the imagination has taken pianos onto trams and rooftops, down in the streets on top of the Piano Bici and in the channels on ferryboats.
Every year the pianos invade homes, courtyards, squares, parks, museums, terraces, schools, transforming the city in one grand outdoor stage.