Mauro and His Fiery Piano

mauro fflortissimo pianofire

Bay Area Milanese artist Mauro Ffortissimo is well versed in the visual arts as well as classical piano. Earlier this year, these two passions converged in the form of the Sunset Piano, the name given to a castoff grand piano that Mauro acquired. In a poetic act that brought joy to scores of people, he built a platform on a bluff in Half Moon Bay and installed the piano there, where it stayed for two weeks. Members of the public were invited to play to the ocean, and every night there was a stunning sunset playing. When the piano was no longer allowed to stay, Mauro hosted a gathering, where one last piece was played as the piano was set aflame. Mauro has collected the remains and is working on sculptural pieces that incorporate them. He will be at Maker Faire Bay Area this weekend, May 18 and 19, to share his unique vision and art.

1. Tell us about the pieces you’re bringing to Maker Faire.
The burnt remains of a grand piano that I moved to a bluff in Half Moon Bay, by the ocean, for a couple of weeks this past February. Lots of people played it, including me, at sunset, thus it was called the Sunset Piano.

mauro sunset piano

2. How did you acquire the piano and why did you decide to burn it in the end?
I got the piano by the luck of the dice rolling in my direction, a winning strike. It appeared by magic, at night, under fog. It belong to a local family who moved away and sold their house. The piano too old, too heavy, untunable, to carry along. It burned, yes, but not as an end, but as an exercise in transformation by blazing flames, smoke, sadness and anger released. It burn because it had to, so we are here now.

3. What was one of your most memorable moments of the piano at Half Moon Bay?
The most of many memorable moments were: the people, smiles, the whales, and pelicans, even the seagulls looked majestic.

sunset piano crowd

4. How did you hear about Maker Faire and why did you decide to participate?
Sherry [Huss] told me it was cool. I figured Joe [Szuecs] will be there. Then I met Louise Glasgow and Dale Dougherty … The Groove! Jonathan [Maginn], Gerard [Nebesky] … and you have a partyyyyy!

sunset piano flames

5. You are a founding member of the Enso Art Collective. How does working with a group of artists affect your creative process?
I just do what I do, what I’ve been always doing — it involves music playing, poetry reading, some song, some dance, also painting, yoga practice,
gardening, cooking, tending to cats and tending to fires, and sweeping, lots of sweeping and tea making, and people come.

sunset piano grass patch

6. What do you think is art’s most important role in society?
There are many kinds of art, and hopefully as many important roles in civil societies. Perhaps we should go all the way back to question “civility.” What defines us as humans, most civil, killing by drones or by suicide bombers. Once we reflect on this we should be able to tell what, if any, role art played in our evolution and the advancement of our species’ DNA.

7. Name three people/things who have influenced your work most.
My parents and Jesus!

sunset piano book

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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