A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians - from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between


by: Isacoff, Stuart
Format: Hardcover

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Product Description A beautifully illustrated, totally engrossing celebration of the piano, and the composers and performers who have made it their own.   With honed sensitivity and unquestioned expertise, Stuart Isacoff—pianist, critic, teacher, and author of Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization—unfolds the ongoing history and evolution of the piano and all its myriad wonders: how its very sound provides the basis for emotional expression and individual style, and why it has so powerfully entertained generation upon generation of listeners. He illuminates the groundbreaking music of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Schumann, and Debussy. He analyzes the breathtaking techniques of Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Arthur Rubinstein, and Van Cliburn, and he gives musicians including Alfred Brendel, Murray Perahia, Menahem Pressler, and Vladimir Horowitz the opportunity to discuss their approaches. Isacoff delineates how classical music and jazz influenced each other as the uniquely American art form progressed from ragtime, novelty, stride, boogie, bebop, and beyond, through Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans, Thelonious Monk, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Cecil Taylor, and Bill Charlap.   A Natural History of the Piano distills a lifetime of research and passion into one brilliant narrative. We witness Mozart unveiling his monumental concertos in Vienna’s coffeehouses, using a special piano with one keyboard for the hands and another for the feet; European virtuoso Henri Herz entertaining rowdy miners during the California gold rush; Beethoven at his piano, conjuring healing angels to console a grieving mother who had lost her child; Liszt fainting in the arms of a page turner to spark an entire hall into hysterics. Here is the instrument in all its complexity and beauty. We learn of the incredible craftsmanship of a modern Steinway, the peculiarity of specialty pianos built for the Victorian household, the continuing innovation in keyboards including electronic ones. And most of all, we hear the music of the masters, from centuries ago and in our own age, brilliantly evoked and as marvelous as its most recent performance.   With this wide-ranging volume, Isacoff gives us a must-have for music lovers, pianists, and the armchair musician. Review “Like listening to a fascinating raconteur who informs and entertains and really knows his stuff . . . Passion and unstoppable enthusiasm are palpable throughout this beautifully written and illustrated book . . . Isacoff’s heartfelt history of the piano will make you want to Stop! Read! and then go Listen!”            -Eugenia Zukerman, The Washington Post “That rarest of treats: a substantial book about music that’s actually easy to read . . . The book’s strongest passages are those in which Isacoff dwells on the instrument itself, relating several fascinating tales about its invention, metamorphosis and extra-musical developments . . . As a primer on the piano and music history . . . it executes the job with distinction.”            -Zachary Lewis, Cleveland Plain Dealer “Isacoff follows the piano into the honkytonk, the drawing room, the middle-class home and the jazz club, tracking the evolution of the physical instrument itself as well as the composers and performers who made the piano an emblem of cultural variety and a laboratory for musical form . . . His discussion of jazz piano reflects an intense affection for the music and its practitioners.”            -James Penrose, The Wall Street Journal “Stuart Isacoff, pianist, critic and academic, leads readers on a journey of discovery in A Natural History of the Piano…the music, the musicians and ‘the wondrous box’ itself: a volume to inspire and delight.”            -Liz Thomson, The Independent (UK)“Deft . . . In A Natural History of the Piano, Isacoff proves as fleet-fingered as any virtuoso.”            -Peter Monaghan, The Chronicle of H


Product Code: 9780307266378
ISBN: 0307266370
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: 2011-11-15
Number of Pages: 384 pages
Languages: english
Edition: 1st Edition
Dimension: 7.01 x 1.5 x 9.41 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.65 pounds