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Nonfiction Piano Books
#2642419 05/11/17 12:47 PM
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I was wondering if anyone can recommend interesting nonfiction books on pianos / pianists / history. Any recommendations, any types of music including classical / romantic etc, jazz, blues or whatever. I'm just enjoying soaking up this venture and I do enjoy reading so might pick up a few if anything interesting pops up!

With permission from the moderators, I have edited my original post to create this list of suggestions from contributors to the thread. I have not included summaries for most of them, to keep the list visually manageable, but they can be found in the original posts below. I have included the recommending member for reference. I may periodically update again as needed. Thank you for the suggestions and enjoy!


Update 1/17/19
The Russian Piano School by Christopher Barnes (chopin r us)
Gerig Famous Pianists and Their Technique (chopin r us)
The Great Pianists by Harold Schonberg (Morodiene)
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank great read about pianos and Paris France (Rocket88)
Chopin in Paris a biography of the master. (Rocket 88)
Blues People by LeRoi Jones (Agraffe)
The Pianist's Problems by William Newman (David Farley)
Grand Obsession by Perri Knize (Stubbie)
Note by Note by Tricia Tunstall (Stubbie)
A Natural History of the Piano: the Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between by Stuart Isacoff (Stubbie)
Piano Notes by Charles Rosen (bennevis)
After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by Kenneth Hamilton (bennevis)
Jeremy Siepmann's The Piano by Jeremy Siepmann ...coffee table book (bennevis)
Piano" by David Crombie's ....coffee table book (bennevis)
A Soprano On Her Head (dogperson)
The Perfect Wrong Note (dogperson)
Evenings with Horowitz (dogperson)
Play It Again by Alan Rusbridger, who with limited piano skills took it upon himself to learn Chopin's 1st Ballade in one year. - a mix of piano and politics from an engaging writer. (PianogrlNW)
Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos: A Technological History from Cristofori to the Modern Concert Grand (agraffe)
Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano (agraffe)
The Piano Book (agraffe)
Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer (agraffe)
Playing the Piano for Pleasure (agraffe)
Principles of Piano Practice (agraffe)
First, Learn to Practice (agraffe)
Chopin a Graded Practical Guide by Eleanor Bailie (outo)
Chopin Pianist and Teacher by Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (outo)
Chopin's Letters by Dover Publications (outo)
The Cambridge Companion to Chopin ed. by Jim Samson (outo)
Composers on Music ed. by Josiah Fisk (outo)
Off The Record by Peres Da Costa (outo)
18th Century Keyboard Music ed. by Robert L Marshall (outo)
19th century Piano Music ed. by R.Larry Todd (outo)
20th Century PIano Music by David Burge (outo)
Practicing Perfection by Chaffin by Imreh, Crawford (outo)
The Secret Life of Musical Notation by Roberto Poli (outo)
The Art of Piano by David Dubai (outo)
A Natural History of the Piano by Stuart Isacoff (outo)
Cesar Franck His Life and Times by R.J.Stove (outo)
Eric Satie: Music, Art and Literature ed. by Caroline Potter (outo)
The Composer-Pianists Hamelin and the Eight by Robert Rimm (outo)
The Untold Story of Adele aus der Ohe by LaWayne Leno (outo)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli as I knew him by Lidia Kozubek (outo)
Playing the Piano for pleasure by Charles Cook (outo)
Nicolas Medtner by Barrie Martyn (outo)
Pianistic Problems by William S.Newman (outo)
The Art of Practicing by Madeline Bruser (outo)
Piano Notes by Charles Rosen (outo)
Mastering Piano Technique by Seymour Fink (outo)
What Every Pianists Needs to Know About The Body (outo)
Adaptive Strategies for Small Handed Pianists by Lora Wreal and Brenda Wristen (outo)
The Pianists Guide to Pedalling by Joseph Banowetz (outo)
The Pianists Guide to Standard Teaching and Performance Literature (A must have to adult beginners who like to choose their own pieces) (outo)
Guide to Pianist's Repertoire by Maurice Hinson (recommended only if you love to explore repertoire whether you can play it or not) (outo)
Samuel Feinberg: Pianism as Art (in Finnish) (outo)
Discussions with Horowitz by David Dubal (in Finnish) (outo)
The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich (in Finnish) (outo)
Memoiries of Ashkenazy (in Finnish) (outo)
Rubinstein's self biography (in Finnish) (outo)
Chopin by Andre Gide (in Finnish) (outo)
Domenico Scarlatti by Ralph Kirkpatrick (outo)
The Keyboard Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti by W.Dean Sutcliffe (outo)
Domenico Scarlatti Master of Music by Malcom Boyd (outo)
Keyboard Music Before 1700 ed. by Alexander Silbiger (outo)
Francois Couperin and the French Classical Tradition by Wilfrid Mellers (outo)
Chopin's Piano by Paul Kildea (Tyrone Slothrop, Syblille)
Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times by Alan Walker (Sybille)
A Romance on Three Legs: Glenn Gould's Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Piano by Katie Hafner (John 305)
Debussy: A Painter in Sound by Stephen Walsh (Stubbie)
Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph by Jan Swafford.(Stubbie)
The Perfect Wrong Note by W. Westney (Stubbie)
Great Pianists On Piano Playing (Monkeeys)
Chang fundamentals book (Monkeeys)
Moscow Nights:The Van Cliburn Story-How One Man and His Piano Transformed the Cold War by Nigel Cliff (dumka1)
The Great Pianists on Piano Playing (NobleHouse)

Last edited by cmb13; 01/17/19 10:42 PM. Reason: Updated List

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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642427 05/11/17 01:09 PM
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One of the very best I know is The Russian Piano School translated and edited by Christopher Barnes. Also there's Gerig Famous Pianists and Their Technique.

Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642431 05/11/17 01:19 PM
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"The Great Pianists" by Harold Schonberg is a good book. His writing style is very easy to read, and it's fun to learn about some of these very colorful people of history.


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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642434 05/11/17 01:25 PM
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"The Piano Shop on the West Bank"...one of the best, a great read about pianos and Paris France.

Also "Chopin in Paris" a biography of the master.


Piano teacher.
Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642451 05/11/17 02:26 PM
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Look into _Blues People_ by LeRoi Jones, a comprehensive treatment of blues as a uniquely American art form.


"When life gives you a lemonwood Gaveau [piano], make a place for it (or, what is the same thing, find a wealthy foreign collector/enthusiast to sell it to)." --adapted from and inspired by _The Piano Shop on the Left Bank_ by Thad Carhart
Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
rocket88 #2642453 05/11/17 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by rocket88
"The Piano Shop on the West Bank"...one of the best, a great read about pianos and Paris France.

Also "Chopin in Paris" a biography of the master.

+1
I loved that book "The Piano Shop on the West Bank" , picked it up in the second hand book shop for pretty much nothing last year, I only saw it by accident while browsing. Once I started on it I couldn't put it down. A great read indeed thumb



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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642455 05/11/17 02:42 PM
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I found "The Pianist's Problems" by William Newman to be a good read when I was relearning.

https://www.amazon.com/Pianists-Problems-William-Newman/dp/0306802694

And anything by Alfred Brendel (he has several books).

Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642471 05/11/17 03:51 PM
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Grand Obsession, by Perri Knize

Note by Note by, Tricia Tunstall

A Natural History of the Piano: the Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between, by Stuart Isacoff


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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642472 05/11/17 03:53 PM
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Charles Rosen's Piano Notes is a great read, no matter what your level. Just bear in mind that he is quite upfront about his opinions. His description of his scale technique, for instance, might raise a few eyebrows. grin

And let me plug a favourite volume, the Scottish pianist professor Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance which is suffused by his dry wit as well as his penetrating insights throughout. Read about how pianists came to perform the way we are accustomed to now, sideways on (so we can see their flashing fingers) and entirely from memory (so we can admire said memory......), as well as how performance practices have changed in almost every aspect.

A couple of excellent coffee table books: Jeremy Siepmann's The Piano which covers the history of "the world's most popular musical instrument" and its proponents, with the emphasis on classical music. And David Crombie's Piano is even more 'coffee table' in that you can dip in and out to admire beautiful instruments (old & new), see their insides and working mechanisms, and read about the development of the world's most popular musical instrument......

N.B. Both the latter might be out of print, but are worth seeking out.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642513 05/12/17 04:55 AM
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Two current suggestions I've just read:
A Soprano On Her Head
and
The Perfect Wrong Note


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642535 05/12/17 06:34 AM
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Thank you ..... sound like great suggestions. Maybe I'll hit Barnes and Nobles this weekend. (I know, so 1990s). If anyone is interested, I can compile a list of these recommended reads and edit the first post of the thread.


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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642539 05/12/17 06:45 AM
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Sure a list would be great......
I also enjoyed 'Evenings with Horowitz'.
yes, I read a lot about music--- but I purchase almost everything used.

Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
dogperson #2642563 05/12/17 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Two current suggestions I've just read:
A Soprano On Her Head
and
The Perfect Wrong Note
Yes! Was going to recommend these as well. Excellent books about the psychological issues with playing an instrument and performing, and the latter has some great ideas on good practice methods.


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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642577 05/12/17 09:37 AM
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OK I'll work on that list when I get a break at work...


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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
Morodiene #2642593 05/12/17 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Morodiene
Originally Posted by dogperson
Two current suggestions I've just read:
A Soprano On Her Head
and
The Perfect Wrong Note
Yes! Was going to recommend these as well. Excellent books about the psychological issues with playing an instrument and performing, and the latter has some great ideas on good practice methods.


If I remember (?) you had recommended these previously, which is why I read them. smirk If it was someone else, I'll give you credit, anyway.
The 'Soprano On Her Head' I have read only in small doses, and I will re-read it - otherwise, I would need to find a psychiatrist. 'Judges'? Not me, I thought....until I really did think about it later. ... and up the 'judges' popped cry

Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642616 05/12/17 10:49 AM
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EDIT: Updated List At The Top Of The Page

Last edited by cmb13; 06/01/17 11:00 AM.

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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642649 05/12/17 11:35 AM
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"Play It Again" by Alan Rusbridger, who with limited piano skills took it upon himself to learn Chopin's 1st Ballade in one year. At the same time, Rusbridger was an editor with the Guardian investigating WikiLeaks. A lively read with mix of piano and politics from an engaging writer.

Last edited by PianogrlNW; 05/12/17 11:59 AM.


Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642730 05/12/17 03:17 PM
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More books:

Giraffes, Black Dragons, and Other Pianos: A Technological History from Cristofori to the Modern Concert Grand by Edwin M. Good (probably best obtained used, since a new paperback runs $27 on Amazon.com)

Piano Roles: A New History of the Piano by James Parakilas

The Piano Book by Larry Fine (not just for prospective buyers of a piano!) Also see the semiannual Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer also by Larry Fine et al.

Books on technique:
Playing the Piano for Pleasure by Charles Cooke
Principles of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang
First, Learn to Practice by Tom Heany

Last edited by agraffe; 05/12/17 03:24 PM. Reason: added a book!

"When life gives you a lemonwood Gaveau [piano], make a place for it (or, what is the same thing, find a wealthy foreign collector/enthusiast to sell it to)." --adapted from and inspired by _The Piano Shop on the Left Bank_ by Thad Carhart
Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2642737 05/12/17 03:39 PM
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"A Natural History of the Piano: the Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between" by Stuart Isacoff (Stubbie)

I found this at the library and am reading it right now, about half way through. It's an interesting read and has a lot of fun color stories about various famous pianists and quirky piano stories. It's also gotten me to listen to some pianists I'd never heard of but who are fantastic (like Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum, never been a jazz fan but these guys got my attention)!

Last edited by squidbot; 05/12/17 03:40 PM.

Now learning: Chopin C# minor Nocturne (posth) and C minor Prelude (big chords), Mozart Sonata in C K. 545
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Re: Nonfiction Piano Books
cmb13 #2649176 06/01/17 11:11 AM
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Bringing to the top with updated list on the first post. Thank you!


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