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The World Piano Bible

What could you possibly do if you were bored with your life in former East Germany? Well, with the right motivation you could start collecting data about pianos and their makers.

Growing up in East Germany, Jens Witter first learned to love piano music because his father played for the Central German Broadcasting station. While working in a piano factory in Leipzig, East Germany, Witter started cataloging pianos, inadvertently beginning what would eventually become his doctoral dissertation. He started his research during a time when he had access to a large number of persons who still had memories and stories from the golden era of piano manufacturing. The data archive grew and comprised 10 000 index cards and eventually became a massive Bible of Pianos containing some 40 000 names.

piano bible

This authoritative guide is essential for all serious collectors and makers of keyboard instruments. It’s a useful reference for every professional, piano technician, student, music merchant, keyboard enthusiast, and has a rightful place in public and academic libraries. The book also contains action makers and piano part suppliers, international city indexes, patents, and specific information about where to locate certain instruments in museums, private collections, and organizations.

This collection showcases over 8,000 color images of rare keyboard instruments made by master builders of the golden ages, including full-color images of their portraits, factories as well as contemporary keyboard instruments, pianos, reed & pipe organs, harpsichords, players etc. Includes well-known manufacturers like Bechstein, Boesendorfer, Fazioli, Steinway & Sons along with other long forgotten manufacturers which cannot be found in any other single reference work.

Many keyboard instrument makers disappeared during the wars in Europe, and may have later relocated in the U.S.A. or Canada and can now be found in this world-wide research under their new names with updated facts and essential information. This unique reference offers an expanded size and vast layout containing substantial amounts of pertinent information including beautiful and informative illustrations.

Read more at: www.theworldpianobible.com


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The Hidden Piano Treasure of Jean Sibelius

Strangely enough, it would be quite easy to attend piano recitals for years and never hear a note of Sibelius. Now Norwegian pianist Leif-Ove Andsnes makes an adventurous raid into Sibelius’ native Finland and want us to change that. It is not surprising that his playing is immaculately detailed and sympathetic.

The Finnish master wrote over 150 works for piano, but these works have long languished in the shadow of his orchestral music. His piano pieces were often seen as lacking in the rich, sonorous textures that the composer brought to his full orchestral works and were therefore largely disregarded. However, Sibelius was not alien to the piano and two dozen orchestral works were also written as piano versions. He also composed some 110 songs with piano accompaniment and around 50 chamber music works including the piano.

In the past, pianists such as Vladimir Ashkenazy and Glenn Gould have expressed admiration for Sibelius piano compositions and now Andsnes has scoured the composer’s entire piano output, carefully selecting the pieces he believes deserve recognition and with which he feels a strong personal connection, uncovering ‘intriguing works with the wonderful Sibelius qualities we know’. Another notable mega mission is Finnish pianist Folke Gräsbeck’s Sibelius Complete Piano Music on BIS label as a part of the “The Sibelius Edition” – 68 discs in 13 thematic boxes containing all the music Jean Sibelius ever wrote,

Andsnes’ new album on SonyClassical, was recorded at the Teldex Studio in Berlin at the beginning of this year.
“There has been such a feeling of discovery”, Andsnes says. “Everyone was astonished that there can be a major composer out there with such beautiful, accessible music that people don’t know. The fact that many will be hearing it for the first time, that’s a wonderful feeling”.

In the context of Sibelius’ variable output for the piano, Andsnes has chosen his programme judiciously. Almost all the items are short impromptus, bagatelles, and descriptive mood pieces, some elegantly recalling Chopin, all of them highly enjoyable.

Sibelius piano music - Leif Ove Andsnes

Buy album here


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Ode to Joy at the Proms 2017

Hear Igor Levit’s encore at First Night of the Proms 2017. Liszt’s piano solo version of Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Beethoven theme transcribed by Liszt

Piano score to download and print:
Extract, page 45-47: Beethoven/Liszt – Theme from Symphony 9

The 9 Symphonies Transcribed by Liszt

For those interested in Liszt’s transcriptions of all nine Beethoven symphonies might also find thrill in the 19th century practices on ways to experience orchestral music without attending a symphony concert, years before the invention of recordings and piano rolls. With this in mind inspiring recordings of the Liszt versions of the symphonies have been spotted utilizing a variety of historical keyboards and performance styles. Liszt had produced a superb two-piano transcription of the Ninth, a work he often conducted. Despite his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel’s appeals, Liszt maintained that distilling the universe of Beethoven’s last symphony for one player at one instrument was impossible. In 1865 however, living in seclusion at a monastery on the Monte Mario, Liszt wrote a translation of the symphony medium to solo piano with immense craft and inspiration. The opening of the finale to the ‘Ode to Joy’ is stunningly affecting. But it is a stint preparation for the combination of rhythm, colour, pacing and unyielding musical will, describing the sublime exaltation of Beethoven’s incitement.

“Of the major Romantics, Liszt alone had a personal connection with Beethoven. A case could be made that this first-hand association would prove to be the defining event of his life. Even in old age, he continued to refer to Beethoven as his great ideal, the lodestar of his artistic universe. Liszt’s advocacy of Beethoven’s music, at a time when many of his contemporaries were either unfamiliar with or baffled by the late-period works, is a matter of historical record.
Before the earliest attempts at sound reproduction, Liszt drew on every means at his disposal to create an accurate replica, a facsimile, of works he recognised as uniquely powerful, in order that others might better know and understand an artistic legacy he loved and valued above all.”
— Patrick Rucker, Gramophone

Hear full recordings of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony transcribed by Liszt:

NEW! Click the album covers to listen to the complete albums:

(This is a new feature available for Gold members of pianostreet.com)

Read more in Piano Forum:
Have you heard the Beethoven / Liszt Symphonies (Transcriptions)
Beethoven Symphonies – Which one would you play?


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International Piano – July/August Issue

International Piano july-june 2017

A new issue of the magazine International Piano is out!

Canadian virtuoso Marc-André Hamelin shares his passion for rare repertoire and explains why it’s important to understand the mechanics of music; celebrating the achievements of pianist-composers; Andrew Brownell introduces his new edition of Hummel’s Concerto in A minor; and Beethoven’s mighty Hammerklavier on disc.

Plus, how to practice scales and make it enjoyable; the new technology changing the art of piano tuning; London Piano Festival marks the centenary of Russia’s 1917 revolution; why audiences are unwilling to explore unusual repertoire; and free sheet music from Christopher Norton’s Pacific Preludes.

Piano Street Gold members have instant online access to the digital version of the magazine.


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Mozart Can Tell the Difference

For the first time in the history of The Cliburn Competition, semifinalists were required to perform a Mozart concerto. This was not only based on the fact that the Cliburn Foundation’s CEO Jacques Marquis is a classical concerto fan, but rather from the aim of judging how competitors show musical maturity and the delicate world of the Austrian master.


As Dallas News writer Scott Cantrell puts it: “Mozart concertos aren’t pianistic showpieces. But they’re like microscopes focusing on fine details: rhythmic steadiness and spring, shapely phrasing, a keen ear for coordinating with the orchestra and a sense for when the piano is a foreground soloist, and when it’s texture filling.”

As the final round includes the bombasms of the great romantic concertos of composers such as Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, the Mozart aspect along with the chamber music (Piano Quartet) momentum allows the jury to get a much more diversified picture of each finalist.

During the semifinals the 2017 Cliburn winner, 28-year-old Sunwoo Yekwon had chosen the Mozart concerto No. 21 in C major K. 467, and was praised for his “bold, vividly characterized” interpretation which included the quality of “taking liberties with unaccompanied passages, but he always worked back into the orchestra’s tempo”. The performance held a strong personal stamp.

Sunwoo Yekwon honored his late teacher, Seymour Lipkin, by performing a cadenza that his teacher wrote. He had asked permission years earlier to play the cadenza and said he was glad he was able to play it during the Cliburn competition.

“People seemed to enjoy it, I’m not sure about the jury members but the audience members enjoyed it and that matters a lot”, said Sunwoo after his performance with Nicholas McGegan conducting the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.

Given a choice of nine concertos, the 12 semifinalists had just chosen four; Nos. 20, 21, 23 and 25, all composed during Mozart’s so-called Don Giovanni period.

Hear Sunwoo Yekwon perform Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto in C major K. 467:


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