The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Do you know the Piano from A To Z? The BBC Music Magazine has listed 26 facts about pianos -– some of which The Ear knew and many of which he didn’t. | March 22, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

Here is a good follow-up to yesterday’s post about the centennial of the birth of the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter.

A lot of young people start learning classical music via the piano.

The Ear is one of them. And to this day he remains an avid amateur pianist.

But how much do I really know about my chosen instrument? Not enough, it turns out.

Farley's House of PIanos MMM 20141

And how well do you know the Piano From A To Z? The BBC Music Magazine has listed 26 facts about pianos -– some of which The Ear knew and many of which he didn’t.

See how you do – and let us know.

Here is a link:


1 Comment »

  1. Good BBC article but some of the “facts” are really “opinions”. One that I do not agree with is the writer’s view that Artur Rubinstein’s autobiography is one of the worst ever written. I found it charming; brilliant; and insightful (I have read only the first volume; admittedly, it is long, but so was his life). He tells in the book an amazing story about how he attempted to commit suicide (the rope broke) because of the harsh, forced conditions under which he had to practice.

    The same writer also slams Earl Wild’s autobiography but that may be due to the BBC’s very English stance. By the way, Wild was another great gay, pianist, and that too might have had something to do with the writer’s position. Certainly the people who have reviewed his autobiography, “Walk on The Wild Side”, over at Amazon do not agree with the BBC article since they uniformly give it rave reviews.

    Like this: “Written in a very cosy conversational style, every page brings us a rosy palimpsest of the man himself; sometimes outrageously opinionated, but never vicious – always with a sense of the mischievous, sanguine, cleverly sophisticated, and sought after bon vivant he must have been. Here was an artist with strong opinions, an overriding personal integrity and dedication to his art, who penned a treasure trove of memories and anecdotes about some of the 20th century’s prominent musicians, as well as ‘movers and shakers.” He moved among them, and he remembered.

    I found his teaching and pedagogical ideas an excellent resource, putting some of them immediately into practice! In a very real fashion, by teaching us about himself, and passing on in turn the concepts inculcated by his own mentors, his legacy is transmitted to a new generation.”

    And this: “Earl Wild’s memoir, “A Walk on the Wild Side,” is a wonderful tour through the long life and remarkable career of this extraordinary artist. I was lucky enough to have known Mr. Wild for almost 30 years, and I can attest that this book speaks with his voice. In the course of his long career, he knew just about anybody who was anybody: the great, the not-so-great, and the quirky but interesting. The chapters on pianists he had heard (Chapter 2, “Pittsburgh, City of Dirty Ermine”), piano technique (Chapter 11, “Banging is for the Bedroom”), and composition (Chapter 16, “John Cage’s 4’33”) are treasures of knowledge and insight. All music lovers owe it to themselves to read this book. Although his criticisms are sometimes acerbic, anyone who knew Earl knows he spoke these criticisms with a twinkle in his eye, utterly devoid of bitterness.”

    Wild died a few years ago.

    Comment by fflambeau — March 22, 2015 @ 3:35 am

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