Old-fashioned Sounds

March 3, 2010 at 2:18 am (By Donna B.)

Via Megan McArdle, here’s Slate’s In Search of Lost Sounds: Why you’ve neverreally heard the “Moonlight” Sonata.

Because a lot of people my age grew up hearing more of the old, out of tune upright pianos prominently featuring chipped ivories and a funky smell… than we did well-made, well-cared for, and thus rare, older pianos, it’s easy to understand why we preferred the new.

The story is about the Frederick Historic Piano Collection – 24 pianos made from 1790 to 1928. They are housed in a small Victorian library building in Ashburnham MA and they are featured in a yearly concert series. Hearing one of those concerts and seeing the pianos is one of the most appealing reasons I can think of to visit Massachusetts.

There are several clips in the article comparing compositions by Beethoven, Brahms, and Debussy played on a Steinway to them played on pianos the composers might have actually used. I checked YouTube for more recordings by the pianists playing the old instruments, but didn’t find any. That’s a void begging to be filled.

Fascinating… and somewhat of an indictment of standardization. Heed this,autotune.

(Originally posted at OpiningOnline, but… a better fit for this audience perhaps?)

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1 Comment

  1. Maxwell said,

    Delightful!

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