THE PIANO MAKERS by David Anderson


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The making of a grand piano--a painstaking team effort utilizing disparate skills--is a likely subject for photo-documentation; and some of Anderson's photos are first-rate--the four intent workers rushing the just-glued veneers of the rim into a press, for instance. But the book misses on count after count. The jacket notes that the piano is being made at the Steinway factory in New York City; and so, in small type, does the copyright page. But that legitimate and interesting piece of information is absent from the text--where, however, we're suddenly told that ""Only Steinway soundboards are shaped this way"" (and it sounds like a plug). The first page tells us that ""it takes nearly one year, and nearly four hundred workers and craftspeople, to make a piano."" Subsequently, we're never told how far along we are in the process; neither are we told anything about the workers, their qualifications or training. (That's particularly unfortunate because the ones we see are not elderly, European-type practitioners of lost skills, but mostly youngish people, many from minority groups.) The piano itself is built without a diagrammatic depiction of the whole or any labeling of parts (the parts of the ""action,"" only, are identified at the close of the book); so even a child who's had a chance to peer into an open grand piano will be baffled by much of this. Assorted intimations, then, but no overall grasp.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Pantheon