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Vladimir de Pachmann was perhaps history’s most notorious pianist. In this book, the first biography ever of this remarkable figure, the authors explore the life of this master pianist, surveying his achievements within the context of contemporary critical opinion and preserving his legacy as one of the last great Romantic pianists of his time.
'Beguiling ... Limpidly written, effortlessly learned' William Boyd, TLS, Books of the Year In November 1838 Frédéric Chopin, George Sand and her two children sailed to Majorca to escape the Parisian winter. They settled in an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in the mountains above Palma, where Chopin finished what would eventually be recognised as one of the great and revolutionary works of musical Romanticism - his 24 Preludes. There was scarcely a decent piano on the island (these were still early days in the evolution of the modern instrument), so Chopin worked on a small pianino made by a local craftsman, which remained in their monastic cell for seventy years after he and Sand had left. This brilliant and unclassifiable book traces the history of Chopin's 24 Preludes through the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them and the traditions they came to represent. Yet it begins and ends with the Majorcan pianino, which during the Second World War assumed an astonishing cultural potency as it became, for the Nazis, a symbol of the man and music they were determined to appropriate as their own. The unexpected hero of the second part of the book is the great keyboard player and musical thinker Wanda Landowska, who rescued the pianino from Valldemossa in 1913, and who would later become one of the most influential musical figures of the twentieth century. Kildea shows how her story - a compelling account based for the first time on her private papers - resonates with Chopin's, while simultaneously distilling part of the cultural and political history of Europe and the United States in the central decades of the century. Kildea's beautifully interwoven narratives, part cultural history and part detective story, take us on an unexpected journey through musical Romanticism and allow us to reflect freshly on the changing meaning of music over time.
The first history of keyboard improvisation in European music in the postclassical and romantic periods, Fantasies of Improvisation: Free Playing in Nineteenth-Century Music documents practices of improvisation on the piano and the organ, with a particular emphasis on free fantasies and other forms of free playing. Case studies of performers such as Abbé Vogler, J. N. Hummel, Ignaz Moscheles, Robert Schumann, Carl Loewe, and Franz Liszt describe in detail the motives, intentions, and musical styles of the nineteenth century's leading improvisers. Grounded in primary sources, the book further discusses the reception and valuation of improvisational performances by colleagues, audiences, and critics, which prompted many keyboardists to stop improvising. Author Dana Gooley argues that amidst the decline of improvisational practices in the first half of the nineteenth century there emerged a strong and influential "idea" of improvisation as an ideal or perfect performance. This idea, spawned and nourished by romanticism, preserved the aesthetic, social, and ethical values associated with improvisation, calling into question the supposed triumph of the "work."
A Dictionary for the Modern Pianist combines nearly four hundred entries covering classical and popular pianists, noted teachers, terminology germane to the piano’s construction, and major manufacturers. Speaking to the needs of the modern performer, it also includes entries on jazz and pop artists, digital pianos, and period instruments. Transcending simple alphabetical definitions, Stephen Siek’s careful attention both to legacy and detail make the dictionary an invaluable addition to any pianist’s library.
"Beginning with Pachmann's childhood in Odessa, Mitchell follows the process by which the youngest of thirteen children evolved into one of the finest - and most colorful - artists in the history of the piano, one who was able to fill London's Albert Hall for a recital. Particular emphasis is placed on the two principal relationships of Pachmann's life: with the pianist Maggie Okey, to whom he was married for a decade, and with Francesco Pallottelli, the waiter-turned-impresario under whose influence he eventually settled in Fascist-era Italy."--Jacket.

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