A Natural History of the Piano (Ebook)

Stuart Isacoff

A beautifully illustrated, engrossing celebration of the piano, and the composers and performers who have made it their own.

Stuart Isacoff - pianist, critic and teacher - explores the history and evolution of the piano: how its sound provides the basis for emotional expression and individual style, why it has so powerfully entertained generation upon generation of listeners.

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 Ranging from the groundbreaking music of Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt and Debussy to the breathtaking techniques of Glenn Gould, Oscar Peterson, Arthur Rubinstein and Van Cliburn, Isacoff delineates how classical music and jazz influenced each other as the uniquely American art form progressed from ragtime, novelty, boogie, bebop, and beyond, through Scott Joplin, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock and Bill Charlap.

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, as brilliantly evoked as its most recent performance.

This wide-ranging volume is an essential for music lovers, pianists, and the armchair musician.

Publication date: 01/07/2012


ISBN: 9780285641181


Imprint: Souvenir Press

Subject: Humour & Gift, Reference

Stuart Isacoff

Stuart Isacoff

Stuart Isacoff is active across North America and Europe as a writer, pianist, composer and lecturer. His ongoing presence in the cultural landscape has included presentations at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Lincoln Center, as well as at festivals around the world and regular contributions on music and art to the Wall Street Journal. Until 2014, he was on the faculty of the Purchase College Conservatory of Music and the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance (SUNY).
Isacoff is the author of A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians-From Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between.

He is a winner of the prestigious ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing about music, and the 2017 recipient of the Communications Prize awarded by the Artistic Committee of Cremona Musica.

Stuart Isacoff has given lectures and piano performances both here and abroad, at such venues as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Verbier Festival and Academy (Switzerland), Music@Menlo, the Portland Piano Festival, the Miami Piano Festival, the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, the September Music Festival (Torino), the Gina Bachauer Foundation, the Van Cliburn Piano Institute and others, as well as at such scientific institutions as the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Bradbury Science Museum and the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics.

His compositions, arrangements, editions, and instructional texts have been published internationally. He was the founding editor of the magazine Piano Today, a position he held for nearly three decades.

Stuart Isacoff's piano recitals combine classical repertoire with jazz improvisation, demonstrating the threads that connect musical works created centuries and continents apart. Of his playing, pianist André Watts has said: 'Stuart Isacoff's music-making is original and revelatory. Subtle, brilliant use of the instrument combined with a unique musical perspective, create performances of uncommon depth. Isacoff reveals his beautiful interior world with every performance.'