Monstrous Pianos Replace Early Keyboard Instruments. The title of this blog poses a basic questions: How does a pianist interpret the music of composers who lived before 1850? Or, expressed another way: How do we stay true to the intentions of composers who lived in this time period? In part this will be answered by the desciption of a concert I gave as pianist for a world renowned violinist. First, how does a harpsichord produce sound? A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard which activates a row of levers that in turn trigger a mechanism that plucks one or more strings with a small plectrum. The harpsichord can produce a specific louder sound. This happens when a coupler joins each key to both manuals of a two-manual harpsichord. However, it offers no dynamic or accent-based expressive control over each note.
How does a modern piano produce its sound? By strings being struck by the action of hammers. Loudness of every tone can controlled by the fingers hitting the keys that activate the hammers. The more force you employ, the louder the sound. The tones produced can be blended and amplified by a foot pedal. However, here is the primary pitfall: Unless the pianist is incredibly precise in hitting notes exactly together, the piano pedal merely amplifies his imprecision.
Steinway grand piano in the White House
I worked for 15 years with a violinist whose accompanists used the pictured piano above. My capacity was as his arranger and accompanist. His stage name was Rubinoff and His Violin. He played for 5 American Presidents. I’ve played for only two up to this point. I just commemorated his memory in a concert at Circleville, Ohio this last June 2, 2018. In the 1930’s Dave made as much as $500,000.00 annually as violinist and conductor. For my own last concert, Maestro Steve Greenman was the featured violinist. Joseph Rubin is the curator of the Ted Lewis Museum. He also conducted the orchestra. As mentioned in the poster, I also gave a featured lecture about our working relationship. More concerts with Maestro Greenman are in the making. Announcements will be forthcoming.
No Monstrous Pianos for Rubinoff and His Violin
I brought the concert into the blog because Rubinoff was very specific about the touch he wanted. Rests had to be observed. His notated rests were not to be covered by a piano pedal. Often, he required a slightly detached and lighter touch, like a harpsichord. However, at times the piano had to roar- like the monstrous pianos. Hear our most rare and lost concert below. Rubinoff and I gave it in the Catskill Mountains of New York State in 1984. He was 86 years of age, As he talks to the audience, you’ll become acquainted with a great man. Also, please read the related Rubinoff blogs on DSOworks.com. You’ll see how Will Rogers helped to shape his incredible career. Dave loved the American Indians. I believe that in turn Will, who identified with the Cherokee Nation, helped him.