There is a wealth of books for pianists and pianophiles, from detailed analyses of repertoire to books on technique and practising, pianists’ memoirs and novels featuring pianists. Here is a brief selection of books to satisfy the pianist and pianophile, including some newly published memoirs and books on piano technique, practising and developing artistry.
András Schiff: Music is Born Out of Silence
András Schiff is one of the world’s greatest living pianists, particularly revered for his interpretations of Bach and Viennese repertoire. He is also a noted teacher. His book Music is Born Out of Silence is a memoir in the form of an interview and essays on his musical life, and beyond. He gives an enthralling account of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, for example, and reflects on the world of classical music today, music education, playing techniques and interpretation. An insightful, stimulating and inspiring read for pianists and music lovers alike.
Alfred Brendel: The Lady From Arezzo
Another revered pianist, and, like Schiff, famous for his interpretations of Viennese repertoire in particular, Brendel retired from performing in 2008. Alongside his musical career, writing has been his second life and occupation, and his books on music are at once erudite and accessible, filled with insights. ‘The Lady From Arezzo’ is almost, but not quite, a memoir, with essays on subjects ranging from Haydn’s often overlooked humour to living without a piano while studying to be a concert pianist, interspersed with musings on art and even some of Brendel’s own poetry.
Frédéric Chopin: Andante spianato and Grande polonaise brillante in E-Flat Major, Op. 22 (version for solo piano) (Alfred Brendel, piano)
Penelope Roskell: The Complete Pianist
A monumental tome representing a lifetime of piano playing, teaching and research, The Complete Pianist aims to help pianists of all levels improve their playing from the very earliest stages of learning a piece, through all the technical challenges and interpretative decisions to finding inspiration in the act of performance itself. Packed with invaluable accumulated wisdom and intelligent advice, and excellent supporting materials, including QR codes which link to video demonstrations on technique and exercises, presented by the author. A must-have book for piano teachers and pianists alike.
Howard Smith: Note for Note
An honest, informed and informative account of the author’s journey as an adult pianist who took up playing in retirement, Note for Note is a kind of ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ of the piano, charting the pleasures and the pitfalls of learning an instrument. Additional information on harmony, music theory, and strategies for overcoming performance anxiety, this book will resonate with others on the same path and will provide inspiration and practical information for those who are just starting out on the journey.
William Boyd: Love is Blind
A master of compelling, immersive fiction, William Boyd’s latest novel is set at the end of the 19th century and follows the fortunes of Brodie Moncur, a young Scottish musician and piano tuner, about to embark on the story of his life. A pacey, page-turner which takes the reader from Scotland to Paris, St Petersburg to Provence, it’s a story of love and revenge, music and the piano with strongly-drawn characters and atmospheric set pieces.
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