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Distributed for Eburon Academic Publishers


The Art of the Virtuoso Piano Transcription

In Metamorphoses, pianist Rian de Waal takes readers on a journey through the complicated history of piano transcription—the use of one or multiple pianos to recreate solo, chamber, or symphonic pieces of music. At first revered by musicians and audiences alike (and often the sole reason for the great fame of some pianists), piano transcription came to be despised and considered unnecessary, superficial, and even heretical. As de Waal reveals, the fact that piano transcription has survived such fierce resistance owes much to the special qualities of the piano as a musical instrument. With the aid of approximately eighty musical score samples and six CDs of his recordings—featuring representative pieces by Chopin, Liszt, Godowsky, Busoni, and others—de Waal brings these qualities to the fore with verve and tenderness as he explains how piano transcription fell from acclaim into disrepute and lately seems to have regained the respect it deserves. But more than this, he provides deeply felt musical insight into what matters most: why are some piano transcriptions so virtuosic, and how do man and machine act together to make this so?

312 pages | 6 compact discs, 2 halftones, | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2

Music: General Music

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“This book is a long-overdue exploration of the field of romantic piano transcriptions and paraphrases. The late de Waal, a superb advocate for this repertoire, discusses the historical, aesthetic, and pianistic elements of these unique works with clarity and insight. His work should be read by all serious pianists and musical historians.”

Donald Manildi | curator, International Piano Archives, University of Maryland

“De Waal illuminates the rather dark area of the keyboard literature known as transcriptions with penetrating gaze and insight. He shows his reader both the breadth and the depth of his subject across time, reckons surely with the dated concepts which have hindered pianists from exploring this repertoire, and argues for the purely aesthetic value of the genre. This is a book of great interest for all who love the piano.”

Frank Cooper | University of Miami

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