Sunday, February 1, 2009
"Looking to donate this lovely piano from the '80s"
By the '80's, piano craftsmanship had taken a turn for the weird. In the wake of postmodernity, the most avant-garde pianomakers were interested not only in representation but in peculiar counter-representations, and in trying to drive home the arbitrary nature of the signifier. As a result, there was a notorious period in which they foisted nearly anything on the public as a "piano," daring the world to complain. "I am the pianomaker. I decide what is or is not a piano. You contend this is a dresser or drybar? Fine. I say it is a piano. Same goes for that piano over there. Yes, yes, the one you keep calling a barstool."
It was a brief period in the history of pianomaking, and one remembered with little fondness by concert pianists worldwide. Presented with one of these objects at a recording session at EMI Studio late in his career, Sviatoslav Richter is said to have quipped "I would sooner brush my teeth with this than try to play Schumann's Fantasy in C."