Books for Pianists

General reading

1.  Reginald R. Gerig: "Famous Pianists and Their Technique": R.B.Luce: ISBN 0-88331-212-3.   A treasure chest of contemporary writings outlining the history of piano technique - possibly the best of its kind.  

2.  Harold C. Shonberg: "The Great Pianists": Gollancz: ISBN 0-575-00418-5.   More of the same, only more anecdotal.  Includes some super photos of pianists.  

3.  Elyse Mach: "Great Pianists Speak for Themselves": Dover: ISBN 0-486-26695-8.   Interviews with legendary pianists, with little interruption from the interviewer.  Very good portraits.  

4.  Amy Fay: "Music Study in Germany": Dover: ISBN 0-486-26562-5.   A collection of letters to the author's family in America, written between 1869 and 1875.  Contains what are probably some of the best accounts available of the teaching of Kullak, Tausig, Liszt and Deppe.  

5.  Louis Kentner: "The Piano" (Yehudi Menuhin Music Guides): Macdonald: ISBN 0356-047148.   A good brief guide from an excellent series.  Covers many topics from the making of the instrument to repertoire.

Books on piano playing

1.  Reginald R. Gerig: "Famous Pianists and Their Technique": R.B.Luce: ISBN 0-88331-212-3.   A treasure chest of contemporary writings outlining the history of piano technique - possibly the best of its kind.  

2.  Otto Ortmann: "The Physiological Mechanics of Piano Technique" (1930): Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner &  Co Ltd (London): E.P.Dutton & Co (New York) - Now out of print.   An absolute gem.  If you can find a copy, don't exchange it for anything. It can still be found through Amazon's second hand book service.  

3.  Harold Taylor: "The Pianist's Talent": Kahn & Averill, London: ISBN 0900707526.   A fascinating account of the enlightened empirical approach of the blind piano teacher, Raymond Thiberge. Taylor convincingly aligns Thiberge's principles with those of the Alexander Technique.  

4.  Heinrich Neuhaus: "The Art of Piano Playing": Barrie and Jenkins: ISBN 0-214-65364-1.   Essential reading for every serious pianist.  Get a copy!   

5.  Walter Gieseking and Karl Leimer: "The Shortest Way to Pianistic Perfection": Dover: ISBN 0-486-22867-3.   The classic book about the art of listening. Essential reading for students who don't!  

6.  Pedro de Alcantara: "Indirect Procedures": Oxford: ISBN 0-19-816569-2.   An illuminating book showing the application of Alexander Technique to musical performance. To quote Sir Colin Davis: "There is much wisdom here in this book, along with some great quotations, many photographs, and exhaustive analyses of the aims and applications of Alexander's discoveries."

Piano interpretation

1.  C.P.E.Bach: "Essay on the True Art Of Playing Keyboard Instruments": Eulenburg Books, London: ISBN 0-903873-01.   A book every serious musician should own, not only for information on expression, style and ornamentation, but also for its exhaustive section on figured bass accompaniment and improvisation.  

2.  Robert Donington: "The Interpretation of Early Music": W. W. Norton & Company: ISBN 039396003X.   Probably the best book available on this subject - revised by the author in 1992. Donington is a scholar who does not provide easy answers.  Read here contemporary accounts and decide for yourself on how to interpret them.  

3.  Arnold Dolmetsch: "The Interpretation of the Music of the XVII and XVIII Centuries": Novello: (No ISBN).   Written in 1916 and revised by Carl Dolmetsch in 1946, this is still valid, and a rich source of contemporary writings.  

4.  Konrad Wolff: "Schnabel's Interpretation of Piano Music": Faber: ISBN 0-571-10029-5.   Full of fascinating insights into the subtleties of phrase structuring etc. Schnabel was a pupil of Leschetizky, and teacher of Edwin Fischer (who taught Brendel) - all part of a line of great teacher/performers who are outstanding for their depth of musical insight and integrity.  

5.  Tobias Matthay: "Musical Interpretation": Ayer Co Pub: ISBN 0836951913.  A brilliant book, full of insights about colouring and phrasing, by a much misunderstood and misquoted pioneer of piano pedagogy. Matthay was clearly an exceptional teacher. 

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