By Ann Fenech, on 10 June 2010
When I was younger and studied the piano I sometimes thought of one day becoming a classical musician. My (very much) less-than-exemplary practice sessions – together with my unwavering lack of excitement at solo playing – soon put paid to that idea.
However, a tiny part of me still hankers after that idea. So when I saw this event, presenting the piano in a science festival, how could I not attend?
The event was presented by David Owen Norris, an internationally recognised concert pianist who is also an academic. He took us through the developments of the piano throughout its 310 year history. He discussed how dampers and pedals developed, as well as what different tuning temperaments could be.
I was however particularly taken by the ‘square piano‘ that was presented. Why? Because it seems like it’s fate has mostly ended up as cocktail cabinets…or even hen coops. However, if the right pieces of music are played on it – the pieces of music written for it that is – it definitely makes a much better impression!
Sadly however, quite a number of animals died in the development of the instrument we had in front of us: there was whale bones, elk hide, buck skin and ivory all incorporated into it. Not very animal friendly now is it?
I really enjoyed this first immersion into the festival (even though I could have done with a bit less of playing and more explaining – probably arising from still haunting memories of my own solo playing).
I will leave you with one thing I learnt today: The world’s first piano concerto was written by the England’s fattest man. How’s that for a fact?
Update: Want to see snippets from the event? Check out this post.