THE GREAT PIANISTS by Harold C. Schonberg


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Whereas this title would seem exhaustive, and he does indeed give more than four chapters to the contemporary period, Schonberg's role here is to clarify the continuity of pianism from the date of the piano's invention (1709) to the dawn of the ern day. How did the salon technique of piano playing compares to that of the harpichord? How did the ""string-snapping"" technique of Beethoven permit him nonetheless to write music that would remain in the repertoire perhaps forever? What was the ellspring of Paderewski's attraction, of Horowitz's, of Rubinstein's? Who were some of the great performers and teachers whose work caused revolutions in their day, but those names are now all but forgotten? Unfortunately Schonberg, music critic of The New York Times, composed this particular piece with a rather heavy hand. It may have been unavoidable, in trying to compress so many biographies into one volume, but most of the book is slow, dry going for the non-teaching, non-performing reader. The subleties of interpretation, technique, and all-around musicianship which might register pon the consciousness of an ordinary concert-goer (or record-listener) are of course difficult to pin down in mere words. On the whole, he has succeeded factually, but the book is not at all the sort to reward the reader who might happen to have taken a new piano lessons or enjoy an occasional concert.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1963
Publisher: Simon & Schuster