"The Piano is a show that wants to make people cry. What I wanted to do was cheer them up,” said street pianist Vroni Holzmann.

Because of this, she explained, she chose a “difficult to play” boogie-woogie version of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee, the Bumble Boogie. “I tried," she said, " to find the most entertaining piece for the judges, Mika and Lang Lang, and everybody. I wanted to give them a good time.”

The piece was typical of the kind of music the Bavarian musician takes to the streets and squares of European towns and cities when she does one of her busking tours with a piano in a van. The full video of the performance can be seen here. 


Ms Holzmann was one of the many entrants in the second series of Channel 4’s The Piano, a show which travels the stations of the UK, looking for gifted amateur pianists.

But, as Holzmann points out, the joy of this particular show is not finding out about the winner, but all the people met along the way.

The Bumble Boogie she says is a version of the Flight of the Bumble Bee by Jack Fina. “I think,” she said, “he created a masterpiece out of something classical turned into boogie-woogie.”

“I had three choices because I wanted to show something I would play normally.  I could have played my own composition, which is a classical waltz, called Reminiscence, or I could play Stride piano because that’s like Fats Waller.”

Ms Holzmann, who is also a composer, has been playing street piano in Edinburgh, which she has made her home, for 25 years. On her tours with her piano, she has visited 86 cities.

It's been impossible, she said, to watch this week's episode, because she is on the road, on her current tour, and played in Rotterdam the day of the broadcast

The Herald: Vroni Holzmann loading her piano into her vanVroni Holzmann loading her piano into her van (Image: Vroni Holzmann)

One of the things she hopes to do, by taking her piano on the road, she said, is inspire people. “I busk with a piano in a city centre because it is a crazy thing to do this - and that helps people feel more free in life. Because they think if a woman on her own with that big instrument can do that, it creates possibilities. for them”

But, she said, it’s not easy, taking an 86-year-old piano to the streets. “People,” she said, “don’t realise what it takes. It is a whole special level of effort and that’s because I want it to sound good and have a certain quality..”

READ MORE: The Piano returns with a visit to Scotland on the way

The other factor she battles is the weather. “Last year I did a tour of Europe after not having done it in a while, an anxiety disorder to do with a thyroid condition, the pandemic and other issues. I went as I always had before in July/August hoping to hit good weather, Because if it rains you just have to pack up. Last year the weather became a constant issue because either it was really hot or it was stormy and rainy.”

Ms Holzmann recalled the build-up to her performance in Edinburgh’s Waverley station. I was nervous for months and I just stopped everything else to practise.  really wanted to do it because I play fun music and I always thought if one person sees this on TV and thinks I want to learn that boogie something magical has happened.”