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Chopin's Piano: A Path Through the Romantic Century
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Chopin's Piano: A Path Through the Romantic Century

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  18 reviews
'Beguiling ... Limpidly written, effortlessly learned' William Boyd, TLS, Books of the Year In November 1838 Fr�d�ric Chopin, George Sand and her two children sailed to Majorca to escape the Parisian winter. They settled in an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in the mountains above Palma, where Chopin finished what would eventually be recognised as one of the great and r ...more
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published July 24th 2018 by Allen Lane
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Kortians Yes, it is just a reprint, but in paperback form. "A Journey Through Romanticism" is the UK title "In Search for the Instrument that Transformed…moreYes, it is just a reprint, but in paperback form. "A Journey Through Romanticism" is the UK title "In Search for the Instrument that Transformed Music" is the American title. So exactly the same thing (at least the same as the UK copy) but just in paperback form. I didn't know there was a movie coming out, but I don't think it has anything to do with that. (less)
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3.73  · 
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 ·  49 ratings  ·  18 reviews


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Tony
I remember listening to a sports talk show on the car radio a few years ago and one of the two hosts, perhaps to show the breadth of his other-than-sports knowledge, said in as challenging a tone as possible to the other host that U2 was the greatest rock band ever. As if no other opinion was even thinkable. I remember thinking: a) I couldn't name one U2 song; and b) I could probably make a case for 25 other rock bands without breaking an intellectual sweat.

I was reminded of that as I read this
...more
Roman Clodia
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating journey this book takes us on! Organised in two parts, the first explores Chopin's composition of his 24 Preludes in 1838; the second looks at the receptions of the Preludes, Chopin himself and the pianino on which he worked. Much of this second part concentrates on Wanda Landowska, a Polish Jew and brilliant keyboard player - and once we're mid-way through the C20th century both her life and her performances of Chopin get caught up in Nazi ideology.

Most of us are well aware o
...more
Eleanor
It’s not really about Chopin’s piano.

Oh, it starts off adhering to its title well enough: Kildea gives some background information about Chopin and his lover, George Sand, an infamous female author who liked to scandalise Parisian salon society by dressing as a man. The two moved to the island of Mallorca for the winter of 1838-39, where Chopin’s lovely Pleyel piano got held up in customs and he was forced to make do with a pianino built by a local craftsman, Juan Bauza. That is the instrument o
...more
Danielle T
A biography of sorts for the Mallorcan piano created by Juan Bauza for Frederic Chopin during his & George Sand's brief stay in Majorca. The main significance of this instrument? It is where about half of Chopin's preludes were sketched and refined, before being finished on a Pleyel piano Chopin ordered from the mainland. The book is divided in two parts: the first, of Chopin's life starting from the Majorca trip and through his death (he left the Bauza in the monastery they stayed in) with ...more
Patrick
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On November 1838, Chopin, George Sand and her two children, along with Sand’s Chambermaid, travelled from Barcelona to Palma, on the island of Majorca. That famous journey – one that probably contributed much to the island’s current tourist industry – has been firmly etched in our romantic imagery. Having visited the monastery and the cells in Valldemossa, I always have a vision of Chopin composing against the backdrop of its beautiful surroundings. Also well known is how the extreme weather on ...more
Andrew Howdle
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: most-loved-books
Chopin's piano is exactly what it says-- study of Chopin's pianos, and one in particular, his Bauza, a pianino/upright on which he composed a number of his Preludes, whilst (supposedly) recovering from illness in Mallorca. The first half of the book examines the Preludes and their place in Chopin's music. The second half is a quest for the missing Bauza, which passed into the hands of the harspsichord virtuoso Wanda Lewinska-- a quest for the Chopin holy grail. Kildea writes knowledgeably and en ...more
Lcitera
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Esoteric and fascinating. The book is focused on a still missing piano on which Chopin composed his preludes while living in a monk’s cell...with George Sand...in Valldemossa, Majorca. The piano’s first journey “up the mountain” for delivery to Chopin, eventually to France to the home of the great Wanda Landowska, confiscated by the Nazis, later returned to the Landowska estate...and currently missing... is told in detail. This book makes a point that pianos of our era so differ from those of Ch ...more
Rob Banks
Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall an interesting book. I enjoyed the glimpses of Chopin and Wanda Landowska but did get somewhat bogged down in the middle basically losing track of the titular piano. I would recommend it.
Sarus
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has a slightly unusual structure but overall it works well. The title focuses on something very specific yet descriptive, then uses this as an opening into the broader cultural and artistic scene of the mid-18th century, which I found fascinating. The second part jumps to more modern times and takes up the story of Wanda Landowska, the prominent pianist and promoter of the harpsichord, who left Europe for America because of the uncertainties of the second world war. The book was well w ...more
Ernest Spoon
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating albeit quirky book. A double biography? No. A detective store? No. Cultural history? No. And yet it is all three.

I have a passing acquaintance with Chopin. I attempted to learn his Polonaise Militaire in A Major, Op. 40, poorly, though others, outside my parents, thought it admirable. These days I couldn't tell you the difference between an arpeggio and a glissando--I'm even surprised I can dredge up those words?

I found myself drawn into this depiction of the final years of Chopin
...more
Terry Anderson
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arts-and-history
This book is a great history lesson of classical music from the early 19th century onward.

I studied the sciences in college, and like most good colleges, mine also required that I take few courses in the arts to make me a well-rounded person. Thus, I was introduced to classical music. I’ll stop what I’m doing if I hear Grieg’s Holberg Suite, the Adagietto from Mahler’s symphony No. 5, or Beethoven’s Pathètique. And then there’s Chopin and his Nocturne No. 1. Yet besides knowing what I like, I do
...more
Marybeth
This is a beautifully written book and should make Chopin and Wanda Landowska fans happy. It may not have much for the layreader.

The mystery of the piano mentioned is a non-starter. If you want to read about it, begin with the book's opening chapters about Chopin and Sand in Majorca (and do not expect salacious tidbits about their relationship) and then read the penultimate chapter. In between is a discourse on the life and performance art of Wanda Landowska, arguably one of the finest if not t
...more
Emily
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, quite dense but followed an exciting trail through history, making the nuances of WW2 and life as a pianist more tactile and real. It opened my eyes to a whole side of the war that I previously hadn't considered very much, so the insights this book gives both historically and musically is worth the read. Good musical knowledge is required, and preferably a passion for history, Chopin and piano - not necessarily in that order!
peg
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot of historical context presented in this book but my favorite parts were when the author wrote about the 24 preludes that Chopin wrote in Malta during the winter of 1835. I was able to listen to all 24 on YouTube while reading about their composition. I can understand more why they were distinct from anything else composed by other Romantic composers and remain very well known and popular.
PG
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I predicted a chronology of the instrument, and while it is there, it’s far more about the man who ordered it and the people he and it touched.
Eric
Oct 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn’t finish. Painfully disjointed book, lacking in any coherent structure.
Paul Kerschen
Chopin in Mallorca is of course a good proxy for Keats in Italy. Wanda Landowska has a very nice picture on the cover, but it's George Sand that steals the show.
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