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Piano Notes


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About the Author

Charles Rosen is one of the leading writers on music and musicians in the world. His landmark books include The Classical Style and The Romantic Generation. He is a concert pianist and Professor of Music at New York University.


"Music is not just sound or even significant sound.... There has to be a genuine love simply of the mechanics and difficulties of playing, a physical need for the contact with the keyboard," writes Rosen, a concert pianist, music critic and National Book Award winner (for 1970's The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven). He explores those mechanics, difficulties and more in this thoughtful and wide-reaching blend of history, homage and memoir. In a slightly uptight but obviously learned manner, the author explains the various elements that the piano-playing experience entails, from a child's understanding of the fingering for a C major scale to an accomplished concert pianist's position on her stool. Rosen is mainly concerned with the physicalities of playing the instrument, and he takes readers from concert halls, discussing the order of pieces to be performed lest a pianist follow a work in E-flat major by one in D major to the recording studio, examining the facility with which one can splice piano music. Although nearly all of Rosen's examples are from the music of Bach, Debussy, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann and other classical musicians which may alienate readers who play jazz or popular piano his musings are indeed modern; he ponders what will become of the "dinosaur"-like piano in the 22nd century and addresses the problems of performing in a country where piano concerts are only de rigueur in large cities. Filled with trivia and thought-provoking commentary, Rosen's book is a sometimes dense, but important, study of the physical factors involved in tickling the ivories. (Nov. 6) Forecast: Piano tuners, teachers and budding and professional concert pianists are the most appropriate audience for this, and they'll recognize Rosen's name. The book is most likely too serious for some casual piano players. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"The Economist"Rosen brings all of his experience as one of the most intellectually rigorous pianists and brilliant music historians alive today to this wide-ranging and approachable book.

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