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Robert Traub


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About the Author

Pianist Robert Taub (Princeton, NJ) has performed throughout the United States, Europe, the Far East and Latin America. His book Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas evolved from a performance in Wolfensohn Hall at Princeton and subsequent ones. Taub served as the first artist-in-residence since T.S. Eliot at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, and was the first musician to hold the honor.


For anyone who plays the piano, Beethoven's 32 sonatas loom as the mighty peak of the repertoire. Taub, a concert pianist who has played them all, gives a performer's-eye view of the experience. Taub sets the tone on the first page by declaring that pianists enter into "an implied moral contract" with the composer to understand and respect his intentions. What follows is a close, careful reading of every aspect of performance from fingering to tempo. Like Rosen, Taub does not follow the standard division of the sonatas, opting instead to describe them as "Epitomizing Classical Styles" (Op. 2-49), "Experimentation" (Op. 26-31), "Post-Heiligenstadt, Crossing the Rubicon" (Op. 53-57), "Compression, Homogeneity" (Op. 78-81a), and "Summation, Transcendence" (Op. 90-111). These are thoughtfully construed categories, but Taub is more persuasive when arguing that each sonata is unique, and the most fascinating part of the book for any performer is the division of the sonatas into nine distinctive programs (this reviewer finds the Tempest/Hammerklavier combination especially intriguing). Throughout, Taub is intelligent, informed, exhaustive (74 musical examples grace the text), and genial if sometimes a bit dry. Definitely a performer's guide (Rosen's study will probably work better for larger audiences), this is highly recommended for any library serving pianists, amateur or professional, who want to play Beethoven better. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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