The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Rediscovering old piano technique is altering how the music of the classical Old Masters sounds and how easily it is played

August 26, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Sure, for a long time musicology has traced how musical styles, forms and instrumentation have changed.

But now some researchers are using computers to investigate – and revive – an older keyboard technique from the 19th century that differs dramatically from the more modern technique generally in use. (Below is a photo by Alexander Refsum Jensenius.)

old piano technique CR Alexander Refsum Jensenius

It turns out not to be as outdated or useless as many assume.

It changes not only how the music of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin sounds but also the ease with which the performer can play it.

Here is a story from The New York Times that the Ear had stashed from about a year ago.

But he thinks it still seems timely – and fascinating.

And he hopes you do too.

Here is a link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/science/playing-mozart-piano-pieces-as-mozart-did.html

See what you think and leave a comment.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: To mark the 186th anniversary of the death of composer Franz Schubert, The Ear says YOU MUST HEAR THIS: The Adagio from his late Cello Quintet in C major.

November 19, 2014
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is the 186th anniversary of the death of the Viennese composer Franz Schubert (below) –- a composer whom I have written about increasingly because I find myself more and more attracted to his compassion and empathy, his sociability and humaneness.

Schubert idolized Beethoven, and yet these days I find much of Schubert’s music more to my taste and sensibility than Beethoven’s.

Franz Schubert big

What plentiful and great music Schubert composed in his short life -– he lived only 31 years, from 1797 to 1828. And what great music he composed in the last six months or so, even as he knew he was dying  — including orchestral music, chamber music, vocal music and piano music.

There is so much to choose from.

But today I offer just one of those many YOU MUST HEAR THIS pieces by Schubert: the slow Adagio movement from his late Cello Quintet, D. 956, written shortly before his death from syphilis.

I remember first hearing this piece in “The Love of Life” (below top) a bio-pic about piano virtuoso Arthur Rubinstein, who is seen saying (below bottom) that was the celestial music he would like to die to.

For similar reasons, I dedicate this posting to another extraordinary person who enriched my life immeasurably and who died on the same day, though in a different year, as Franz Schubert -– a person who shared so many of the same wonderful qualities and personality traits that Schubert brought to his music.

You should really one day listen to the whole work, if you don’t already know it. Chamber music simply doesn’t get any better. In fact, music doesn’t get any better.

Listen to it and hear for yourself:


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