Chopin's Piano: In Search of the Instrument That Transformed Music

Paul Kildea (Author)


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.

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
February 04, 2020
5.4 X 0.9 X 8.1 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author

Paul Kildea is a conductor and writer who formerly served as artistic director of Wigmore Hall in London. He is the author of 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
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
This fascinating and beautifully written book will delight music lovers.--Roger Kamien, author of Music: An Appreciation
Highly readable.--Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim
Original, constantly interesting.... Kildea writes fluently about Chopin's work.--Jonathan McAloon
Even those who are not musically inclined will find themselves reading this book to its very end.... [G]ripping.--Phyllis Meras
An episodic, picaresque tale, woven confidently.... [Kildea] writes knowledgeably and approachably about music and sympathetically about his cast of characters.--Alan Rusbridger
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
An impressive feat of wide learning intriguingly deployed.... [G]iddily well-informed.... Kildea finds illumination in the detail.--Jonathan Gaisman