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A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between #2020

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

  • Title: A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between
  • Author: Stuart Isacoff
  • ISBN: 9780307266378
  • Page: 141
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between By Stuart Isacoff, 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 ofA 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.

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      Stuart Isacoff

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

    1. Parts of this book were wonderful I learnt a great deal about piano history and how the different composers fit together with their styles Grouping composers according to their sound and temperament was inspired The Combustibles Beethoven etc , The Alchemists Debussy , The Rhythmitizers Ragtime piano etc and The Melodists Chopin Exploring the ethos and philosophy of the different composers is helping me to greater appreciate the Classical music, and I m certain it will help my piano playing At t [...]

    2. A plethora of keyboard artists are featured in this book, from piano s first days to present A chapter each is devoted to Combustables those composers and pianists who pounded daylights out of the instrument , Alchemists who emphasized rippling sounds piled up on one another , Rhythmizers who accentuated dance step beats and Melodists who generated hummable tunes Shorter chapters are allocated to Russian, German and other assorted pianists Early pianos didn t have sound projection capabilities t [...]

    3. If you love the piano, you won t be able to put this book down It s an engrossing and popular book on the piano, pianists, and all things piano related.

    4. A Celebration Of The PianoPianist and author Stuart Isacoff begins his new book, A Natural History of the Piano The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between at a seemingly odd place well in the middle of the story The book opens abruptly with a portrayal of the jazz pianist Oscar Peterson at the age of 81 moving his broken body to the piano at New York s Birdland and playing with the effortless fluidity and clockwork precision that were the founda [...]

    5. I ll say up front that as a professional pianist, I m probably not the average audience for this book, but it s written in a way that should be accessible for anyone The author s deep passion for the piano and is clear, and it s the reason this very ambitious book works The scope he covers in terms of time, geography, and musical style is really huge, but it rarely feels that way.My only major complaint is that, despite the promise of the title, the book is heavily focused on classical music Tha [...]

    6. This book is a love song to the piano, which also sang to me as a lifelong pianist I loved getting an in depth look into the creation and evolution of the instrument, as well as a deeper, contextual understanding of the lives of the composers who helped make it great.My favorite thing about this book, though Now I m motivated to play the piano regularly than I have in recent years This is a piece of my life that has truly been missed.I would definitely recommend this book to any pianist.

    7. I liked this book than I perhaps thought I would Upon receiving it from the library I thought, What is this, a textbook But no, instead it s a really easy to read natural history of the piano Natural history basically means he can write about whatever he wants wherever he wants in whatever order he wants Isacoff begins with some early history of how the first pianofortes were invented.Then, instead of a chronological look at pianists and or composers, he divides the lot into four types Combusti [...]

    8. I m not an expert, but I understand there to be a precise vocabulary for wine tasters terms like black currant, mellow, gamey and soft can communicate the experience of tasting a wine.For music, no standard vocabulary exists No problem Stuart Isacoff in this book was able to make me experience music that I ve never heard in a way that felt deep and meaningful It s almost worth reading just to hear the music so beautifully described in print.But there s far to the book than that The technical ad [...]

    9. This book is a breezy look at the history of the piano, clearly written to appeal to both musicians and non musicians It makes a nice counterpoint to Arthur Loesser s book Men, Women, and Pianos A Social History in that it is far less sexist and takes the piano s role in jazz and popular music seriously I particularly liked the attention paid to non classical music and musicians Isacoff includes a lot of good and often fun information and he has a pleasantly casual approach which made this book [...]

    10. Delightful if a bit disjoint It took me a while to get used to the sidebars digressions, or maybe they became thematically spaced as the book went on, but by the end I was appreciating the sidebar portraits and glimpses Isacoff has picked out as much as his excellent and enthusiastic prose It s an impressionistic account of the rise of the piano and not meant to be anything exhaustive, but Isacoff is so in touch with the instrument that he really hits the right notes from the absurd to the subl [...]

    11. As a newbie pianist I ve only had a few months of lessons , I thought this book was very interesting The parts where Mr Isacoff discusses the technical workings of the piano was a little dry, but that s probably in the eye of the beholder What I found most enjoyable was his chapters on the invention of the piano and the four different classifications of the composers Actually, I had to laugh when he compared Jerry Lee Lewis to Beethoven It s true I just never thought of it that way before This b [...]

    12. Since I play the piano and enjoy jazz as well as the classics that I study, I had a wonderful time reading this book, cover to cover I learned a lot about the origins of the piano and gained an appreciation of how the instruments available during a given time period affected the music written for them Some folks may quibble if their favorite composer or pianist wasn t mentioned, but the coverage of the hundreds of talented musicians was wide and varied My piano teacher read this book and found i [...]

    13. A wide ranging social and musical history of the piano, from the industrial advances need for it to emerge from the keyboard family tree of dulcimers, organs and harpsichords, its Victorian parlor respectability and the massive sheet music publishing industry, subversion in the hands of New Orleans brothel piano professors , and a categorization of pianists not chronologically by style as Combustibles, Alchemists, Rythmitizers and Melodists, leading to a wonderful study of Franz Liszt and Jerry [...]

    14. I found some of this fascinating and inspiring I enjoyed reading about the lives, intrigues and interconnections of some of the classical composers Not having read much music history, I found this book a good overview of the styles and evolution of music However, I ultimately abandoned this book without finishing it because much is devoted to composers I am not familiar with and therefore ultimately lost interest.

    15. As a grade 10 piano student, I am naturally interested in piano I think Isacoff s material is excellent but he could have organised his structure a bit I enjoyed the look at the classical romantic modern composers but I am not as interested in jazz if you are looking for the Mozart side of this book, don t bother, just get The Life and Times of the Great Composers However, if you are into modern jazz, go for this book.

    16. This book was surprisingly engaging I was expecting it to be a bit of a dry read, but there were many times I laughed out loud at the anecdotes and quotes within There are times that it gets a little too list oriented I would ve preferred for the author to have focused on a few pianists in depths rather than writing a few sentences about as many pianists as possible Overall, a very entertaining and informative read.

    17. Meh If you don t know much about the piano, you ll learn a lot, most of it unimportant If you do know a lot about the piano, you ll learn a lot, all of it unimportant Heavy on the trivia, grabs for the stereotypes wherever possible, and light on the substance Lots of illustrations, both modern photographs and 18th 19th century reproductions And lots of great extended quotations from notable musicians The quotes and the art were valuable than the book itself.

    18. A fantastic read, highly recommended Definitely the top book in 2016 for me It touches the great composers like they were friends living in the next block Light, factual, beautifully structured piece of work From Medici to Galileo, the classics like Beethoven Mozart becoming than just a name or a wallpaper to me, the coming of the Russians into the scene, to Yundi Li and Glenn Gould, ending with Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg I could not put it down.

    19. You can t comprehensively cover 250 years of pianists through classical, romantic, contemporary, jazz, rock, and every other style of existing music in 300 pages and hope to do than just scratch the surface But as a surface level history of the piano and its enthusiasts, it s an enjoyable coffee table music book.

    20. Despite the boring cover, this was one of the better music history books I ve read Possibly overly ambitious in scope and title by trying to include instrument history composers performers but the broad categories were actually helpful A little jazz heavy at the expense of other styles.

    21. I finished this book a long time ago but I couldn t get the system to allow me to close the system Anyway, the book got too long and needed a CD so that the reader could appreciate what the writer was trying to say.

    22. A fine introduction that will be most valuable those not well acquainted with music history the book is perhaps over general and somewhat elementary, but often still insightful One might wish for a little less focus on jazz.

    23. Fascinating, but if there was organization to it I never figured it out I got dizzy from going to topic to topic, century to century The book starts with jazz piano.

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