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Posts Tagged ‘piano

“Turn the page”*…

 

 

giphy

 

Like elevators, page turners are only remarkable when things go awry. And go awry they do…

 

But then…

There are breakout moments in musical history where turners become visible and audible through neither accident nor error. In Ravel’s two-piano version of his Introduction and Allegro, he calls for a mysterious “third hand ad lib.” to perform an impossible trill—a part that could only be executed by an especially daring page turner, reaching across the keyboard and right into the middle of the action. In the middle movement of Charles Ives’s Violin Sonata No.2, a raucous hoe-down, the composer’s manuscript features an additional stave with a drum-like rhythm instructing the page turner to smash out noisy cluster chords at the bottom end of the keyboard. It’s a strong reaction to anonymity…

Why pager turners matter (with an number of very amusing examples): “Turning Over.”

* Metallica (from the 1988 album “Garage, Inc.”)

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As we keep time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1897 that Alexander Scriabin’s piano concerto premiered in Odessa, with Scriabin as soloist.  Already a renowned pianist, the then-24-year-old Scriabin was making his debut as a composer for the orchestra (with what turned out to be his only concerto).  While this early work was influenced by Chopin, Scriabin went on to develop (independently of Schoenberg) an atonal musical system, and was one of the most innovative– and most controversial– of early modern composers.  The Great Soviet Encyclopedia said of Scriabin that “no composer has had more scorn heaped on him or greater love bestowed.”

Scriabin pf source

 

Written by LW

October 23, 2019 at 1:01 am

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes”*…

 

piano tuner

 

Once a staple of middle-class American homes, a piano in the living room has become a less common sight, as fewer people learn to play the instrument. And in a city where square footage (and privacy) are at a premium, devoting space to a 500-pound instrument may seem like a strange choice. Yet Michael “Mickey” Finn, a resident of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, has been working full-time as a piano tuner in New York City for nearly 20 years.

Finn’s first job in the city was as a piano technician for the New York City Opera, before he became an independent tuner, working in private homes, in rehearsal rooms, and for institutional clients…

Finn speaks to Topic about his own musical education, how he started getting clients, and the song he plays to test his own work; illustrated with photos by Gus Powell, who followed him for several days as he tuned his way across town: “He’s Got the Keys to the City.”

* Thelonious Monk

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As we tickle the ivories, we might recall that it was on this date in 1948, three days after an announcement of the innovation at a press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria, that Columbia Records began mass production of the 33 1/3 RPM long-playing record.  The format, which allowed for over 20 minutes of music on a side, briskly overtook the 78 rpm format and dominated music sales well into the 1980s.  The popularity of the LP ushered in the “Album Era” of English-language popular music, beginning in the 1960s, as performers took advantage of the longer playing time to create coherent themes or concept albums.

440px-12in-Vinyl-LP-Record-Angle source

 

Written by LW

June 21, 2019 at 1:01 am

“When a great genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him”*…

 

Genius follows its own law of gravity. It migrates in ever greater numbers to where it thrives. Hence places like Silicon Valley – and attempts to replicate it elsewhere, like London’s Silicon Roundabout. The phenomenon is older than the microchip, of course…

Watch the centers of creative gravity migrate through Europe, from 1400 to 1950, at “The Geography of Genius.”

* Jonathan Swift (the inspiration for John Kennedy Toole)

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As we put on our sailin’ shoes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1853 that Steinway & Sons sold its first piano in the United States.  The company had been founded in March of that year by Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, who’d started making pianos in his native Germany in 1935 (and who didn’t officially change his name to “Steinway” until 1864).  Working in a loft on Varrick Street in Manhattan, he called his first U.S. piano “Number 483” as he’d built 482 pianos before immigrating.  It was sold to a New York family for $500.  Over the next thirty years, Henry and his sons, C. F. Theodore, Charles, Henry Jr., William, and Albert, developed the modern piano; almost half of the company’s 127 patented inventions were developed during this period.

An “Original Style” Steinway piano like #483

source

* Jonathan Swift

Written by LW

September 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

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