Grand Obsession

A Piano Odyssey

Grand Obsession

Now available in paperback, the critically acclaimed, “lyrical, analytical, yet deeply affecting” (The Washington Post) memoir about one woman’s obsessive search for the perfect piano— and about finding and pursu- ing passion at any age.

 The  daughter  of  a  pro- fessional musician, Perri Knize  was  raised  in  a home   saturated   in   classical music, but it wasn’t until adult- hood  that  she  returned  to  the one  instrument  that  mesmer- ized her most: the piano. When, in  her  forties,  Perri  decides  to buy a piano of her own, she begins by searching for a modestly priced upright, but falls madly, illogically, in love with a rare German grand she discovers in a New York showroom.  After a long dalliance, Knize refinances her house to purchase her piano and has the instru- ment shipped to Montana. But when it arrives, the magical sound that enthralled her is gone, and the tone is dead and dull. One piano tuner  after another arrives to fix it, but no one can.

Knize sets out on an epic journey to restore the instru- ment to its rightful sound and to understand its elusive power. This quest leads her into an international subculture of piano aficionados, all intrigu- ing and eccentric characters— concert artists, dealers, tech- nicians, composers, designers, and builders—whose lives have been transformed by the spell of a piano. She even hikes into the Austrian Alps to learn how the special trees used to build her piano are grown and harvested.

Beautifully composed, passionately told, Grand Obsession is itself a musical masterpiece— and will resonate with anyone who has ever expe- rienced deeply passionate desire.
  • Scribner | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743276399 | 
  • June 2009

Read an Excerpt

About the Author

Perri Knize
Photo Credit: Pam Voth

Perri Knize

Perri Knize grew up the daughter of a professional musician, in a home saturated in classical music.  But instead of following her father’s path of a career in music, she became an award-winning environmental policy reporter for magazines, including Audubon and the Atlantic Monthly.   In her 40s, she felt called to return to her first love, the piano. She lives in Montana with her husband, Oliver, their mastiff, Ben, their cat, Sylvia, and her piano, Marlene.