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#1697194 - 06/17/11 06:10 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: pianoloverus]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
That being said, I do feel that many pianists today ignore a lot of great repertoire that isn't showy. We see it here on the forums - there's a tremendous amount of interest in Alkan for example. He's a great composer, but much of the interest is because of the virtuosic nature of his work. Compare that with how often Mompou is mentioned here. NEVER! And I suspect it's because although Mompou is a fascinating composer of extremely beautiful works, they're just not virtuosic enough to capture people's attention.


For those not that familiar with Mompou, I will use this post as an excuse to post a few of my favorites among his works:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gCquIhX20w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVUIqMvcHlQ&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esLN64KKo7o
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNNYEz600ns



Very nice. I'm familiar with the Hough, but hadn't ever heard Ciccolini, with Mompou. de Larrocha, also played a great deal of Mompou...and quite wonderfully (as with everything she played).
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1697200 - 06/17/11 06:27 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: pianoloverus]
cubop Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 28 2012


Registered: 12/17/10
Posts: 368
Loc: Norway
I was one of those not familiar with Mompou. I am now. That was the best part of an already very good piano day. At my very modest level of virtuosity I might even be able to play some of his music. Thanks!

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#1697406 - 06/18/11 09:43 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Mark_C]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2457
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
(Notice that Fledgehog is putting Horowitz in the opposite category from what Skorpius said!) smile


I don't think so, Skorpius doesn't say that Horowitz was flashy but uninteresting but that pianists after him became flashy but uninteresting.

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#1697430 - 06/18/11 10:42 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: stores]
Entheo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1111
Loc: chicago, il
Originally Posted By: stores
Bach, was indeed a show-off. He was given to boasting that he could play any music at sight, no matter how technically difficult or densely scored.


as they say in sports, it's not boasting if you can back it up.

ps - from clara schumann's journal, upon liszt's passing: "he was a great piano virtuoso, but a dangerous model for the young to imitate. almost all the rising pianists imitated him, but they lacked his mind, his genius, his delicacy of touch, so that now we have nothing but great masters of technique and a number of caricatures."


Edited by Entheo (06/18/11 10:49 AM)
_________________________
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#1697486 - 06/18/11 01:11 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: landorrano]
Skorpius Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/08
Posts: 751
Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
(Notice that Fledgehog is putting Horowitz in the opposite category from what Skorpius said!) smile


I don't think so, Skorpius doesn't say that Horowitz was flashy but uninteresting but that pianists after him became flashy but uninteresting.


I never said anything about Horowitz, I stated what Dame Myra said.
_________________________
Working On-

Deux Arabesques, Debussy


On Queue-

Danse Russe from Petroushka, Stravinsky
Toccata, Ravel





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#1697687 - 06/18/11 08:24 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
I find it fascinating that a lot of what people seem to be saying here has a implicit notion that at some point in the past things were somehow "better."

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#1697699 - 06/18/11 09:03 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: bennevis]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: bennevis
IMO, the separation of (technical) virtuosity from so-called 'musicality' is a red herring: pianists who weren't technically well-endowed (or maybe just didn't practised hard enough) used to hide behind such a cloak - that they were 'musicians' rather than 'virtuosos'. But the new generation of pianists have shown such people up - pianists who can play as brilliantly as Horowitz (with far fewer wrong notes) and also do introspection and slow beautiful stuff and phrase long lines like the best divas. Pianists with individuality. Pianists like Yuja Wang and Benjamin Grosvenor, for example (sticking to the under-25s).


+1

You hear so much about how today's virtuoso's "lack musicality" or are "so mechanical." They are human beings too, and their emotions are no less valid than the virtuosos of bygone days. IMO this problem stems from the fact that people simply do not want them to be as good as the masters of the past and are thus compelled to concoct these spurious arguments that they lack "feeling" or other rubbish of that sort. (God forbid that anyone could ever be as good as Rubenstein or Arrau!) For example, I don't particularly care for Lang Lang's playing, but I would never call him mechanical, why? Because that is not any kind of argument; it is a petitio principii, as it were. He is human too, and I am certain he cares very strongly for the music he creates. As do many other current virtuosos, one of my favourites being Till Fellner who has a Bach that is as good as anything you are likely to encounter in the past ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1njQ3Na4LA ).


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#1697771 - 06/18/11 10:48 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: polyphasicpianist]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
For example, I don't particularly care for Lang Lang's playing... but ... I am certain he cares very strongly for the music he creates.



Lang cares about Lang. The music is merely his transportation.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1697775 - 06/18/11 10:53 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
BadOrange Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 368
Loc: Banned
bad posture and ridiculous body movements or should I say contortions seem to be taking precedence. You can tell i'm musical because of my over stated arm gestures and those neck movements that look like ticks but are just natural responses to my super musicality.

But honestly. It is something that does annoy me with so many , too many pianists. In fact if someone starts out and I can tell they are one of those contortionists, i am totally put off. Like watching a conductor pretend he is playing harry potter. Downbeat ? Just look for the patronus,

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#1697785 - 06/18/11 11:00 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: BadOrange]
WinsomeAllegretto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/10
Posts: 824
Originally Posted By: BadOrange

Like watching a conductor pretend he is playing harry potter. Downbeat ? Just look for the patronus,


Hey, that's the whole reason I want to take conducting, so I can pretend to be a magician! :P (jk)

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#1697791 - 06/18/11 11:05 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2114
Loc: Canada
The problem here is that nobody listened to all of the crappy pianists from back in the day because they've been wiped out of History and only the finest remain. I'm sure that in 40 years or something, we'll be able to distinguish the real musical talents from those who are not...why keep criticizing the young generation either? I mean, even Horowitz's landmark recording of the Liszt sonata was done when he was almost 30 years old anyways, why expect an 18 year old virtuoso straight out of a piano competition to play just as well?
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
Brahms - 6 Klavierstucke op. 119
Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#1697792 - 06/18/11 11:06 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
BadOrange Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 368
Loc: Banned
not saying I haven't committed such crimes but there is a time and place for everything. But when it is insincere and well distracting, it just makes me hate the performance. I don't understand why their teachers didn't just say , ya you know that body stuff you do, i mean its cool and all but you might want to tone that down because quite frankly, can I be frank, you just look silly. Practice with a mirror at least.

in terms of virtuosos, I think every instrument has their period where that particular instrument shines in regards to advancements and actual things that are different and novel but really, for piano , that time has come and gone. No matter how good you are , being a virtuoso in 2011 just has little historic value. Please do note i said historic. Every instrument has these periods.

After a point , everyone just sounds the same.


Edited by BadOrange (06/18/11 11:10 PM)

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#1697823 - 06/18/11 11:39 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Does anyone else find this interesting: Hess criticises Horowitz and his contemporaries of mechanical performance; and now, to criticise the current generation of virtuosi of mechanical performance, we use Horowitz as an example of what is not mechanical.

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#1697828 - 06/18/11 11:42 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: polyphasicpianist]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19641
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
Does anyone else find this interesting: Hess criticises Horowitz and his contemporaries of mechanical performance; and now, to criticise the current generation of virtuosi of mechanical performance, we use Horowitz as an example of what is not mechanical.

That's Horowitz! smile

He could be easily typecast (miscast, IMO) as a pure technician, and/or as a showoff -- by people who not only don't appreciate great piano technique as much as some of us do, but also don't recognize his creative and unique musicianship....or else regard it as unmusical, which some do.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1697831 - 06/18/11 11:47 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Mark_C]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Actually, what I was trying to get at was the idea that each generation of pianists seems to think the next generation to be mechanical or musically inferior. You can think of this as analogous to how the elderly frequently bemoan the current young generation.

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#1697834 - 06/18/11 11:50 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: polyphasicpianist]
Mark_C Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19641
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
Actually, what I was trying to get at was the idea that each generation of pianists seems to think the next generation to be mechanical or musically inferior. You can think of this as analogous to how the elderly frequently bemoan the current young generation.

I know!

And what I was saying was that with Horowitz, it's also that other thing. It's not just a different view of him according to which generation or era is talking; he has always been viewed in such a split way, and he still is.
_________________________
"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1697838 - 06/18/11 11:59 PM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Saul Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/07
Posts: 743
Loc: Banned
I believe that there has to be a separation between using virtuosity to generate beautiful and touching music, that really says something to the listener, and music that was purposely written to showcase the finger sportsmanship and showmanship of the performer. I find in this class two prime examples:

Mendelssohn and Liszt.

Both possessed a rare formidable and unique virtuosity, but only one of them used restrained when composing music and naturally performing it. Mendelssohn was famous with his astonishing piano technique and was able to play the most difficult and demanding piano works , his own pieces and other composers' music. But he never let himself get carried away into banality. All of his piano music is restrained, even his most difficult pieces always put the music on top and the primary force behind the piece and not the virtuosity. Liszt on the other hand let his virtuosity overshadow his music, and his showmanship took central stage, and I believe that it has some kind of a flow in composition. And then comes Horowitz, which is a different case all together, a true rarity and a genius beyond words. His ability to play the most difficult pieces with such ease and finesse, brings out to the listener the 'musicality' of the piece, and never the 'showmanship', with his subtle handling and approach to piano playing, he brings music and listener together. I have watched his performance of the Rach third, not a single drop of sweat, what ease, and what finesse, I couldn’t care less about his technique, because I was listening to the music he was making.

Liszt was not like that. His prime 'weapon' was his technique, and regrettably , he let that 'weapon' take the better of him.
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#1697856 - 06/19/11 12:25 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2114
Loc: Canada
You wonder whether Liszt just wrote hard flashy stuff for the heck of it, or whether that was his genuine musical tongue. I mean, the Dante Sonata carries some genuine imagery and non-banal musical material, but it's so damned difficult and full of virtuosic passages.
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
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Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#1697859 - 06/19/11 12:29 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Kuanpiano]
Saul Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/07
Posts: 743
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
You wonder whether Liszt just wrote hard flashy stuff for the heck of it, or whether that was his genuine musical tongue. I mean, the Dante Sonata carries some genuine imagery and non-banal musical material, but it's so damned difficult and full of virtuosic passages.


The Dante sonata is the most fine example for what I said. Pointless up and down scales, mean very little to be.
Even Chopin was able to insert real drama and meaning in his first C major Etude.
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http://www.musicalpaintings.net

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#1697861 - 06/19/11 12:31 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2114
Loc: Canada
But there is some real musical ideas in his music, and a lot of innovations and methods of self expression. Did he write like a virtuoso because he could, or was that just the way he "spoke"...?
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Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#1697870 - 06/19/11 12:41 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Saul Offline
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Registered: 06/18/07
Posts: 743
Loc: Banned
He tried very hard to become the Paganini of the piano, so you tell me...
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#1697872 - 06/19/11 12:46 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Saul]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: Saul
He tried very hard to become the Paganini of the piano, so you tell me...


Yeah, but he got better about the showmanship thing as he got older.

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#1697873 - 06/19/11 12:46 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2114
Loc: Canada
You're correct there, but he became something much more, especially as he aged. He was a real virtuoso, but also a real genius, something that can't really be said about Paganini..IMO completely though.
_________________________
Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
Brahms - 6 Klavierstucke op. 119
Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#1697875 - 06/19/11 12:48 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
You're correct there, but he became something much more, especially as he aged. He was a real virtuoso, but also a real genius, something that can't really be said about Paganini..IMO completely though.


YOU HAVE 666 POSTS!!! AND IT INCLUDED PAGANINI WHO SUPPOSEDLY SOLD HIS SOUL TO THE DEVIL!

ha

EDIT: Well, that was post 666 for you.

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#1697887 - 06/19/11 01:17 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Orange Soda King]
Saul Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/07
Posts: 743
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
You're correct there, but he became something much more, especially as he aged. He was a real virtuoso, but also a real genius, something that can't really be said about Paganini..IMO completely though.


YOU HAVE 666 POSTS!!! AND IT INCLUDED PAGANINI WHO SUPPOSEDLY SOLD HIS SOUL TO THE DEVIL!

ha

EDIT: Well, that was post 666 for you.


LOL
_________________________
http://www.musicalpaintings.net

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#1697918 - 06/19/11 04:25 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: polyphasicpianist]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7753
Originally Posted By: polyphasicpianist
I find it fascinating that a lot of what people seem to be saying here has a implicit notion that at some point in the past things were somehow "better."


Things are definitely different - change does happen. And, depending on one's values, pianistic and musical things at some point in the past might well be "better".

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#1697985 - 06/19/11 09:11 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
I don't have so much of a problem with virtuosity - though I know what you mean and can think of an example or two (not crazy about Goode's Beethoven Sonatas - the pace of the Waldstein strikes me a unnecessary and unmusical). But I think there's a tendency to excessively orthodox interpretation. THere was a thread here some time a go concerning a recording of Gould, with his commentary, playing the K331 Sonata in which he by his own deliberately altered the proscribed tempi. He basically started slow and got steadily faster with successive variations. The idea was a little simplistic - sort of building excitement with pace - but some people saw the entire exercise as a sort of war crime. Seems to me like it should be okay to do this kind of thing.....
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
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Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
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#1697989 - 06/19/11 09:29 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: jnod]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19218
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: jnod
THere was a thread here some time a go concerning a recording of Gould, with his commentary, playing the K331 Sonata in which he by his own deliberately altered the proscribed tempi. He basically started slow and got steadily faster with successive variations. The idea was a little simplistic - sort of building excitement with pace - but some people saw the entire exercise as a sort of war crime. Seems to me like it should be okay to do this kind of thing.....
One of the biggest general criticsms of Gould's playing even in Bach is his choice of tempi which tend to be extreme in either direction.

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#1697992 - 06/19/11 09:34 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: pianoloverus]
jnod Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/04/09
Posts: 794
Loc: Toronto
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
[quote=jnod]One of the biggest general criticsms of Gould's playing even in Bach is his choice of tempi which tend to be extreme in either direction.



That's true - but is it such a big deal? He was the first to admit that a lot of what he recorded and played was based on his own ideas, his own taste.... I don't want to go too far out on a limb here - I'm must less of a Gould groupie than I used to be - but it just seems to me that some people take these things *personally*, as it's an affront to mess with tempo or whatever. For that matter, I would say the same thing about the original instruments orthodoxy...I get it that we learn a lot by playing and hearing performances that attempt to capture the original sound. But it's not the only way to do things.
_________________________
Justin
-------
Bach English Suite #5
Scarlatti Sonata K141 . L422
Mozart Sonata K333
Schubert Impromptu opus 90 D899
Schubert Moment Musicaux opus 94 D780

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#1697998 - 06/19/11 09:49 AM Re: Has virtuosity overshadowed musicality? [Re: Skorpius]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Hmm. I don't think it's as much about "virtuosic" music vs. "slow and lyrical" music, or even fast playing vs. slow playing. Because, I don't believe faster = less musical and slower = more musical.

I think it's more about the performer playing only for themselves instead of caring about the composer and the (overwhelming?) desire to be true to music and the proper style/taste for whatever music is being played. And I feel this care should be more (MUCH more) than the desire to win competitions, get lots of performance opportunities, gain a big reputation, make money, etc... It's MUSIC people, not some way to promote yourself! A very fine art that you enjoy because of how amazing it is (and because I personally believe it is a gift from God, one of the very best things he blessed mankind with).

But whatever you believe, you should NOT believe music is just a way to glorify yourself.

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