Piano Street's Classical Piano News

- your guide to the classical piano world.

Blog home > Category: Piano News

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


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


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.


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:


What’s New in The Cliburn 2017?

The final round of quadrennial Van Cliburn Competition kicked off on Monday. This year, there have been a few changes in the competition. There was and will be, of course, plenty of aggressive and loud playing. There will be technical brilliance and a certain flair. One might hope that there would also be some introspective greatness, too, but “lots of notes” win competitions, not emotional development. In other words, there is a ton of Liszt and not much Schubert. One of the new developments this year was the addition of a quarterfinal round. In previous years, there were just the preliminaries, the semifinals, and the finals.

The competition has moved into the 21st century. There are simulcasts on the competition’s website and the French classical music website medici.tv. The proceedings are translated into French, Russian, and Mandarin, and the live coverage reaches into previously unexplored corners of Asia. Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe host the festivities.


In the past, the contest was terrifically grueling and seemed to reward sheer stamina rather than musicianship or eloquence. This new lineup looked better all the way around for the competitors.The CEO of the Cliburn Foundation, Jacques Marquis, said he is a big fan of classical concertos. Particularly with Mozart, there is no place to hide, he maintained. Beethoven concertos were judged to be romantic rather than classical, so they were limited to the final rounds. When it comes to the chamber music, its small and intimate collection of partnerships showcase a competitor’s musical maturity beyond sheer bombast. Besides, the “big guns” will invariably come out in the Finals. The usual suspects of Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev are bound to be showcased. Another change from previous years is that the judges were almost all new. In the past, the judges would be nearly the same as the last time. Only Joseph Kalichstein remained from the 2013 panel. A fresh perspective led the competition in exciting directions where others had feared to tread. This year’s jury includes: Joseph Kalichstein, Marc-André Hamelin, Amaldo Cohen, Anne-Marie McDermott, Alexander Toradze, Christopher Elton, Mari Kodama and Erik T. Tawaststjerna. These judges encompass the world because their homelands range from Japan to Finland. It is of significance that Yoheved Kaplinsky was not on this year’s panel. Her students have won multiple prizes in Cliburn competitions past, which gave rise to whispers about conspiracies worthy of Russian figure-skating judges. Although nothing was ever proven, this year’s organizers wanted no appearance of impropriety.

New Exposures

The medal winners receive something greater than a mere monetary prizes. Each of the top three will have access to career management services for three years. They will also have concerts booked for them, and for the first time, their performances will be released on CDs produced by Universal Music Group. The second and third-place winners will go on American tours while the grand prize winner will also tour Europe and Asia.


Georgy Tchaidze (Russia)
Kenneth Broberg (United States)
Daniel Hsu (United States)
Rachel Cheung (Hong Kong)
Yury Favorin (Russia)
Yekwon Sunwoo (South Korea)

cliburn finalists 2017

Here’s a breakdown of the new 2017 Cliburn:

Preliminary Round (May 25-28):

• 45-minute recital from each competitor
• Must include a newly commissioned work by composer Marc-André Hamelin
• 20 quarterfinalists chosen

Quarterfinal Round (May 29 and 30):

• Second 45-minute recital
• No piece requirements
• 12 semifinalists chosen

Semifinal Round (June 1-5):

• 60-minute recital
• Mozart concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Nicholas McGegan.
• Piano quintet no longer required

Final Round (June 7-10):

• Piano quartet with the Brentano String Quartet
• Any piano concerto of the competitor’s choice
• Fort Worth Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin this time

Live Webcast

Enjoy the Replay Archive

Further reading:
Leonard Slatkin: Should music be a competition?
Meet The Cliburn CEO, Jacques Marquis


Privacy Policy | FAQ | Contact