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Noon Edition

Tickling The Ivories


This week, the Ether Game Brain Trust is exploring the fine way of the Steinway! We have 88 reasons that you'll enjoy this all-keyboard show, a show we're calling "Tickling The Ivories."

Did you know...

  • Frederic Chopin, a master at the keyboard, wrote four Ballades, freeform one-movement works. His friend Robert Schumann called the first Ballade the "best of all his compositions."
  • Pictures At An Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky is well-known by its orchestration by Maurice Ravel, but Mussorgsky's original was a piece for solo piano!
  • George Frederic Handel's famous harpsichord piece "The Harmonious Blacksmith" has mysterious origins: it was either inspired by the sonorous hammers of a blacksmith, or by a tune Handel once heard a blacksmith whistling!
  • The Hammerklavier sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven was written expressly for the piano (not the harpsichord). In fact, it was written with one specific piano in mind, the six-octave Broadwood piano that he received as a gift from British piano maker Thomas Broadwood.
  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote for both the harpsichord and the clavichord-a small keyboard instrument with metal hammers that strike the strings. Clavichords are capable of producing vibrato (by adding pressure to the keys), but they are also very quiet!
  • One of the oddest keyboard instruments is the prepared piano, as used by John Cage and others. This is essentially a regular piano, but with alterations made to it (e.g., screws, bolts, or pieces of rubber or paper added to the tops of the strings) to alter the timbre.
  • Medieval composer Francesco Landini was known for playing the "portative organ," a small bellows organ that could fit on your lap. However, the oldest pipe organ in Italy was made about a century after Landini passed away.
  • Alicia Keys-the piano-playing queen of R&B, known for songs like "If I Ain't Got You," "Fallin'. is not her real name. She adopted that pseudonym at age 17 because it represented what she did best: played the "keys."

See the full playlist below:

And don't forget to check out our Piano Podcast for an extra trivia challenge!

Music Heard On This Episode

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