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The Brain’s Piano Spot Discovered

Brain mapping has come far in the world and we can read a lot about recent research in this area. Scientists have for instance been able to map the mutual brain connections utilized in language development and musical training. A newly-charted region in the human brain, which so far has not been seen in other animals, may be responsible for extremely fine motor control such as our unique ability to play piano.

Professor George Paxinos of Neuro Research Australia (NeuRA) said the discovery of a previously unknown part of the brain was ”starting me in the face for 30 years”. The size of a pea, the area is embedded in a major neural connection that links the spinal cord and the brain and is strongly linked to the control of our limbs. Paxinos spent more than forty years hand-drawing extraordinarily detailed maps of the human brain with the aid of a 4B (very soft) pencil. Human brains resemble monkey brains but they are bigger.

When Paxinos was searching for this new region in other animals, he just wasn’t able to find it. Thus, it seems to be a unique human part of the brain related to movement control. ”Monkeys, you don’t see them playing pianos, do you?” Paxinos joked. As one of Australia’s most important scientists, his atlases of the brain are among the most renown publications in neuroscience and are used in surgery for example.

So, how is brain mapping done? When starting a new atlas, a sample brain is cut horizontally into about 200 ultra-thin slices. These are photographed in extremely high resolution, and expanded to 100 x 100 centimeter prints before being placed on tables around a hall-size space.


Build a LEGO Piano to Learn Basic Piano Mechanics!

The Concert Grand Piano, one of the most complex instruments of all time, is now in Lego form. Built entirely from 2798 authentic LEGO bricks, it accurately captures the mechanical details of a real piano.

While it doesn’t actually play piano music, this 2,798-piece miniature LEGO model of a concert grand piano does have 25 independently working keys, a removable keyboard, and a height-adjustable bench. It also has a working damper and pedal, a self-playing mode, a working piano lid, and more.

LEGO master SleepyCow engineered it to contribute to LEGO Ideas in the hopes that it will be voted in to be mass produced as a retail kit. He explains the reason for building it:
“Ever since I started learning music, I have always wanted to build a piano out of LEGO bricks. I have also been asked many times by my students about the inner-workings of a piano. I think this will be a great set to teach students about piano mechanics. I’ve seen many people do it in different ways, but I decided to make my own version, as well as try to make it as similar to a real piano as possible with correct proportions.”


Yuja Wang Played with Left Hand in Versailles to Commemorate Peace

The First World War showed no mercy to artists and many died or returned injured. The Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein lost his right arm on the battlefield and Maurice Ravel composed the “Piano Concerto for the Left Hand” for him. The piece was performed by Yuja Wang in a recent concert in Versailles, in which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra commemorated the 100th anniversary of the “Treaty of Versailles” and the end of the Great War.

The world famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War with a symbolic “Concert for Peace” during a memorable performance at the Royal Opera House at the Palace of Versailles.

“The way he has written it, it’s like he’s had three hands or four hands in his head I mean there’s a top melody and then, this in the middle, and it’s like the most beautiful harmonies there and so much intricacies and the instrumentation, he’s using, the colours he’s creating. And you know it has a groovy, wild side.
I think I just enjoy this kind of mysterious power inside, coming from you know like three motives and he is just constantly transforming them… and this power is probably coming from all the catastrophe from the end of the war. And I like that dark power,”
Wang said.

Hear an excerpt from the piano concerto played by Yuja Wang in a DG recording session back in 2015:


Trifonov and Lang Lang Celebrate DG 120 Years in C Minor

“The Yellow Label”, Deutsche Grammophon celebrates its 120th anniversary this year with events all around the globe. Today,  November 6, pianist Lang Lang performs Mozart’s C Minor Concerto in a live streamed gala concert in the Berlin Philharmonie.

10 October: Daniil Trifonov

[The livestream is no longer available]

Among festivities marking the anniversary of Deutsche Grammophon, a spectacular concert was held on October 10 in the Forbidden City in Beijing, where soloist Daniil Trifonov and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra under Long Yu, delighted classical music fans in a worldwide livestream of Rachmaninoff’s second Piano Concerto.

6 November: Lang Lang

The festivities now continue on November 6 in Berlin, when Lang Lang and Anne-Sophie Mutter together with the Staatskapelle Berlin under the direction of Manfred Honeck perform on the stage of the Berlin Philharmonie. This is an occasion to celebrate the history and the future of the world’s oldest record company, founded in 1898 by Emil Berliner as ”Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft”.
The concert program includes Beethoven’s Overture to Fidelio, Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F Major, Leonore Overture No. 3 in C Major, Mozart’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in C Minor K. 491 and John Williams’ Markings for violin, strings and harp.

The festival concert will be on the Arte livestream at 8 PM Berlin time (3 pm EST):
[The livestream is no longer available]

Read more about Deutsche Grammophon’s twelve decades.

The livestream is no longer available, but here is a fresh glimpse of Lang Lang playing en encore at the DG120 Celebration Gala in Berlin


Hands-on Piano Experiences in Cremona

During the last weekend of September, Piano Experience – the Italian meeting point for the world of black and white keys – reached its 8th edition. Piano Street‘s David Wärn was present in Cremona, where piano brands such as Steinway, Fazioli, Yamaha, Bösendorfer, and Steingraeber met with international pianists and representatives of the music media.

A prestigious meeting point for the piano sector

Piano Experience prides itself of being the only exhibition in Europe dedicated to pianos and keyboards. On the other hand, as a visitor to Cremona – birthplace of Antonio Stradivari and a number of other legendary musicians and violin makers – you don’t have to limit yourself to pianos. Piano Experience is held simultaneously with Cremona Musica, a gigantic trade fair for the entire music sector, with a traditional emphasis on string instruments.

Piano experiences on all levels

Piano Experience has been created in response to instrument makers, distributors, buyers and musicians, as a meeting point to exchange ideas and develop new business. As the name suggests, it offers hands-on piano experiences on a number of levels. Visitors have a chance to try out a large selection of high quality instruments, and a rich events programme organized by Cremona Musica in cooperation with the exhibitors offers many musical performances by Italian and international artists. Among the 160 events of the 2018 edition were recitals and book presentations with Boris Berman, Jura Margulis, Louis Lortie, Vanessa Benelli Mosell, Sandro Ivo Bartoli, Stuart Isacoff, and many others.

Interviews and articles to follow

Watch this space to get more reports from Cremona. Interviews will follow with, among others, Boris Berman — about the new multimedia edition of his Notes from the Pianist’s Bench — and Jura Margulis, about his collaboration with Steingraeber & Söhne, reinventing the sordino pedal and incorporating it into a modern grand piano.


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