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Piano Notes: The World of the Pianist by…
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Piano Notes: The World of the Pianist

by Charles Rosen

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"Music is not just sound or even significant sound.... There has to be a genuine love simply of the mechanics and difficulties of playing, a physical need for the contact with the keyboard," writes Rosen, a concert pianist, music critic and National Book Award winner (for 1970's The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven). He explores those mechanics, difficulties and more in this thoughtful and wide-reaching blend of history, homage and memoir. In an obviously learned manner, the author explains the various elements that the piano-playing experience entails, from a child's understanding of the fingering for a C major scale to an accomplished concert pianist's position on her stool. Rosen is mainly concerned with the physicalities of playing the instrument, and he takes readers from concert halls, discussing the order of pieces to be performed lest a pianist follow a work in E-flat major by one in D major to the recording studio, examining the facility with which one can splice piano music. Although nearly all of Rosen's examples are from the music of Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann and other classical musicians but his musings are indeed modern; he ponders what will become of the "dinosaur"-like piano in the 22nd century and addresses the problems of performing in a country where piano concerts are only de rigueur in large cities. Filled with trivia and thought-provoking commentary, Rosen's book is a sometimes dense, but important, study of the physical factors involved in tickling the ivories.

From Booklist
From a professional's point of view, pianist Rosen carefully links the physical act of playing and the aesthetics of the music it produces, with movements of the fingers, arms, feet, and torso that introduce dance and gesture into the interpretation of music. He comments on the role of technique, which becomes routine and sublimated to how a score is interpreted; a hall's acoustics, audience interruptions, and the particular instrument played all affect a performance, but the technique is truly..
  antimuzak | Nov 20, 2005 |
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This is a book about the experience of playing the piano.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743243129, Paperback)

Among the world's instruments, the piano stands out as the most versatile, powerful, and misunderstood -- even by those who have spent much of their lives learning to play. In Piano Notes, a finalist for a 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award, Charles Rosen, one of the world's most talented pianists, distills a lifetime of wisdom and lore into an unforgettable tour of the hidden world of piano playing.

You'll read about how a note is produced, why a chord can move us, why the piano -- "hero and villain" of tonality -- has shaped the course of Western music, and why it is growing obsolete. Rosen explains what it means that Beethoven composed in his head whereas Mozart would never dream of doing so, why there are no fortissimos in the works of Ravel, and why a piano player's acrobatics have an important dramatic effect but nothing more. Ending on a contemplative note, Piano Notes offers an elegant argument that piano music "is not just sound or even significant sound" but a mechanical, physical, and fetishistic experience that faces new challenges in an era of recorded music. Rosen ponders whether piano playing will ever again be the same, and his insights astonish.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In Piano Notes, he writes for an audience about an old friend - the piano itself. Drawing upon a lifetime of wisdom and the accumulated lore of many great performers of the past, Rosen shows why the instrument demands such a stark combination of mental and physical prowess. Readers will gather many little-known insights - from how pianists vary their posture, to how splicings and microphone placements can ruin recordings, to how the history of composition was dominated by the piano for two centuries. Stories of many great musicians abound. Rosen reveals Nadia Boulanger's favorite way to avoid commenting on the performances of her friends ("You know what I think, " spoken with utmost earnestness), why Glenn Gould's recordings suffer from "double-strike" touches, and how even Vladimir Horowitz became enamored of splicing multiple performances into a single recording. Rosen's explanation of the piano's physical pleasures, demands, and discontents will delight and instruct anyone who has ever sat at a keyboard, as well as everyone who loves to listen to the instrument."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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