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Interesting Book: "Piano Roles" by James Parakilas et. al.

Discussion in 'Useful resources' started by RSPIll, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    The full title is Piano Roles: A New Histor of the Piano by James Parakilas and others. Published by Yale Nota Bene in 2002. ISBN 0-300--9306-3.

    This is actually a collection of articles by a variety of authors. The first in each section is more historically inclined and the second is more socially focused. For lack of a better description, I would call this more of a biography of the piano as opposed to a history of the piano. The articles talk not only about the social, economic, cultural, and political influences that caused the development and growth of the piano, but also about how the piano actually affectied society, culture, economics, and even politics.

    It is a good read and I highly recommend it.

    Scott
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    Thank you, Scott. I'm not sure, but I may have already read this book. Hmmm....
    But I'll check it out anyway.
     
  3. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member

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    My local library system (Bergen County, NJ) has the subtitle differently, "Piano Roles: three hundred years of life with the piano". Interestingly, it also has the publication date as 1999 (in time for the 300th anniversary of the invention of the piano.)
    I suspect that this was the first release of the book and that it was re-done over the next 3 years somehow. Don't have time to do the necessary research, but I am taking it out.
    Thanks for the head's up.
     
  4. StuKautsch

    StuKautsch Member

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    I'm currently reading this book. It's fascinating, and when I'm finished I'll try to post a short review. (If it's not already overdue at the library, that is. :roll: )

    The play The Piano Lesson by American playwright August Wilson, is discussed in the book. It sounded very interesting, and as it turned out, was being revived Off-Broadway. My wife and I just caught the last performance, and it was truly hypnotic. We bought a hard copy of the play and will both read it. One of the few plays in which a piano is one of the major characters. In this production, I imagine that most of the audience spent about 1/3 of the time looking at the piano, so this is not just a figure of speech.
     
  5. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's not the book I thought I had. Mine is "A Natural History of the Piano" by Stuart Isacoff. Your book sounds interesting too, Stu. I may see if I can get my hands on a copy!
     
  6. RSPIll

    RSPIll New Member

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    Hey folks,

    Sorry that I haven't been by lately. It has been busy, and with dealing with Mother in the nursing home (and everything involved) I just don't get by that often.

    Anyway, as you may have discovered, Stu, the version and title that I recommended was a redo of the original. This was in the introduction.

    What was most intriguing to me is how the piano became a great societal equalizer. Each generation or so, the piano became available (and almost required) for less economically advantaged social classes to the point where the everyday factory worker or miner would have one. As such, it was considered a skill that could particularly give the young ladies to marry up.

    I was also intrigued by how the Japanese took on the piano after their "Embassy" in the late 1800s visited the US and saw potential for improving Japanese society in the more modern world.

    Scott
     

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