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“An exceptionally fine book: erudite, digressive, urbane and deeply moving.” —Wall Street Journal
Chopin’s Piano traces the history of Frédéric Chopin’s twenty-four Preludes through the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them, and the traditions they came to represent. Yet it begins and ends with Chopin’s Mallorquin pianino, which the great keyboard player Wanda Landowska rescued from an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in 1913—and which assumed an astonishing cultural potency during the Second World War as it became, for the Nazis, a symbol of the man and music they were determined to appropriate as their own. In scintillating prose, and with an eye for exquisite detail, Paul Kildea beautifully interweaves these narratives, which comprise a journey through musical Romanticism—one that illuminates how art is transmitted, interpreted, and appropriated over the ages.
About the Author
Paul Kildea, artistic director of Musica Viva Australia, is a conductor, writer, and former artistic director of Wigmore Hall in London. He is the author of Chopin's Piano: In Search of the Instrument That Transformed Music and Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century.
Beguiling.… Limpidly written, effortlessly learned, copiously illustrated, Chopin’s Piano is a perfect illustration of how the best histories often emerge from left field. — William Boyd - Times Literary Supplement
A sweeping story.… In graceful prose, Kildea explores developments in the history of piano-making, changes in the ways pianists have approached their craft, and, most luminously, the music of Chopin. — Jonathan Rosenberg - Christian Science Monitor
This fascinating and beautifully written book will delight music lovers. — Roger Kamien, author of Music: An Appreciation
Highly readable. — Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim - The New York Times Book Review
Original, constantly interesting.… Kildea writes fluently about Chopin’s work. — Jonathan McAloon - Financial Times
Captivating and intriguing, Chopin’s Piano will most certainly entertain both novice and hardcore music historians.
— Michael Thomas Barry - New York Journal of Books
Even those who are not musically inclined will find themselves reading this book to its very end.… [G]ripping. — Phyllis Meras - Providence Journal
An episodic, picaresque tale, woven confidently.… [Kildea] writes knowledgeably and approachably about music and sympathetically about his cast of characters. — Alan Rusbridger - The Spectator
In tracing the history of the Bauza piano and the lives of those who played it, Kildea achieves a combination of performance and reception history that makes one listen more closely to the music. — Anna Picard - Times Literary Supplement
An impressive feat of wide learning intriguingly deployed.… [G]iddily well-informed.… Kildea finds illumination in the detail. — Jonathan Gaisman - Standpoint