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  • Free to play piano
  • In the Gare d’Austerlitz a man plays a piano as train travellers walk past, some stopping to listen, others paying little attention to him or the music that echoes around the stations entrance. He’s not paid to play the piano, but instead is simply someone who has taken up the open invitation to play this free-to-play piano that resides in the otherwise dreary old station.

    I first encountered a free-to-play piano back when I was doing 366 Pictures in 2012. Back then the piano was in a park in New Zealand, and since then I’ve seen them in various locations across the world.

    I listened to the pianist at Gare d’Austerlitz for a while and watched the various reactions of people passing through the doors of the station, buying tickets, and looking at the various overhead screens with lists of destinations and train numbers.

    Crowds would gather and disperse in waves. His audience were in motion, moved by trains and maybe by his music too. Occasionally they would applaud him at the end of a piece, and while he acknowledged their applause it was obvious that he wasn’t playing for the crowd but for the pleasure.

    Stand in this boring rail station using Google street view

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