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Reportedly in 1698 Cristofori built a harpsichord on which one could play “piano” and “forte”: keyboard music would never be the same. In 1823 Ignaz Moscheles staged a competition between an English and a Viennese piano: these two distinct schools of piano building would, through the following decades, merge into one “romantic” piano. But from when exactly can one speak of a “piano style,” different from a harpsichord or clavichord style? Did changes in the construction of the piano respond to new needs of composers? Or did new instruments inspire composers to do new things?
These are central questions of this subject. Both the scores and the instruments will be our focal point as we chart our way through rapid changes in style and the development of the piano: it is through the instruments that we will look at the music written for them. We will study the pianos of Cristofori, Silbermann, Stein, Walter, Broadwood, Graf, Pleyel, Erard, and will rub shoulders with technology; we will listen to recorded performances on these instruments, and even try some of them ourselves; we will assess the keyboard music of varied composers from the eighteenth to the mid nineteenth century.
Intended learning outcomes
- Demonstrate an advanced knowledge of the principal developments in keyboard music and technology c.1700-1860
- Develop an in-depth awareness of performance practice issues related to keyboard music of this period
- Identify and analyse specific keyboard genres and works from 1700-1860 to an advanced level
- Interpret and critically analyse the political, cultural, and economic factors that impacted on keyboard culture at this time
- Evaluate and criticise source materials and secondary literature in this field to an advanced level
- Develop an in-depth awareness of organology as a research area
On completion of this subject, students should have developed:
- a receptive attitude to new ideas
- the capacity for independent and critical reflection
- knowledge, skills and practices required for independent critical inquiry and research-based writing and presentation
- the ability to present an academic paper to peers
- the ability to identify and critically analyse primary source materials
Last updated: 8 September 2021