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Beethoven’s Pianos

Here at COPI, we are particularly interested in the fortepiano, because the modern piano is considered to be the direct descendent of the fortepiano.

In its day, the fortepiano distinguished itself from the harpsichord and the clavichord by its ability to produce a range of dynamics from loud to soft – an innovation made possible by having hammers strike the strings to produce a tone (as on modern pianos) rather than having quills pluck the strings (as on harpsichords).

The development of the fortepiano is closely tied to Beethoven and his music. As keyboards changed and developed, Beethoven composed pieces that utilized the characteristics of the new instruments. However, Beethoven was generally unhappy with the instruments of his day and constantly demanded that pianos be built that would be adequate for his playing style and for the pieces he envisioned writing. According to historian Jeffrey Dane, Beethoven’s “conceptions and his music demanded a new nobility and breadth of utterance, for which he called into existence new elements of vitality and dramatic emphasis…”

Toward the end of his life, Beethoven acquired two pianos which came closer to meeting his needs; one was made by Broadwood and the other by Graf. These instruments had marvelous qualities; they were responsive, resonant, and clear.

Come by the Corvallis Public Library at 1PM on February 6 and hear a Graf fortepiano for yourself. Pianist David Kim will be giving a free lecture/demonstration. (See details below.) According to Artistic Director Dr. Rachelle McCabe, this is a special opportunity: “The Graf is so rarely heard and it’s a revelation when we hear the music of Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann played on a Graf.”

Mr. Kim will be playing a 6-1/2 foot Graf/Boesendorfer copy by Rod Regier.

Read more about Beethoven and his pianos:

Jeffrey Dane, Background of the Piano, 2001
Tom Schnabel, Beethoven’s Pianos2015

~ Bonnie Esbensen

David Kim, fortepiano
An Ahistorical Performance: Old Pianos and New Musicianship

Saturday, February 6, 2016
1:00 PM
Meeting Room
Corvallis Public Library
Free admission

Don’t miss David Kim and his fortepiano the night before at the Chamber Music Corvallis concert.

David Kim, fortepiano and Lauren Basney, violin
Friday, February 5, 2016
7:30 PM
First United Methodist Church
Corvallis, Oregon