Piano in jazz

Jazz  took the playful spirit of ragtime and boogie and injected a new earthiness. Suddenly, the music seemed to wink at its listeners, as if acknowledging an erotic spark at the heart of every performance. Writer Eudora Welty captured the essence perfectly in Powerhouse, her tribute to Thomas “Fats” Waller (1903–1943): He is in motion Read More

Piano fever

MOZART’S CONCERTOS CHANGED the piano’s standing. Before long, the instrument’s inviting tones became a perfect conductor for the erotic current that ɻowed through the arts as the age of Romance took hold, serving the music of dreamy poets like Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760–1812)—the ɹrst to sit with his side to the audience, the better to Read More

Piano performers on the road

THEY CAME, they played, and they conquered. But first they had to travel, by road, sea, or rail—a tricky matter for any virtuoso musician in search of an audience. The diaries of English historian Charles Burney, who embarked on “the grand tour” of the European continent in the early 1770s, illustrate the problems. Like many Read More

The history of piano

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Victorian England’s celebrated playwright, was also one of its crustiest music critics. Working under the pseudonym “Corno di Bassetto” (basset horn), he regularly skewered the greatest ɹgures of his day with the same acerbic wit that animated his plays. Of Brahms’s A German Requiem, he wrote, it “could only have come from Read More