Tag Archives: Piano roll

Granados’s performance practices

Enrique Granados’s Duo-Art piano-roll performance of his Danza española no. 5 (Andaluza), made some 20 years after the piece was published, illuminates much about late-Romantic piano performance practices.

Transcription and analysis of this piano roll illustrate the disparity between score and performance. Granados added and changed notes, ornaments, articulations, and chords. He also altered many rhythmic values, desynchronized melody and accompaniment, rolled chords at will, and introduced drastic tempo changes not indicated in the score. His performing style thus reflects a personal approach to the piano that lies well within the broader context of the Romantic performance tradition.

This according to “Piano-roll recordings of Enrique Granados: A study of a transcription of the composer’s performance” by Anatole Leikin (Journal of musicological research XXI/1–2 [January–June 2002] pp. 3–19).

Today is Granados’s 150th birthday! Below, the recording in question.

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Grieg and recording

Twain skannet bild

Grieg was intensely interested in sound recording, which was in its infancy in his day.

His works were first recorded on Edison rolls in 1899 by Alfred Grünfeld. This technique of recording sound on wax or hard-rubber cylinders was soon superseded by Emile Berliner’s improvements; Grieg himself was one of the first to record classical music for this system.

Gramophone records, which became two-sided in of 1905, had a playing time of five minutes, more than twice as long as the phonograph, but they left much to be desired in terms of sound quality.

Meanwhile, the player piano, which had existed since 1880, continued to evolve; by the early 20th century a piano roll could record up to 15 minutes of music. Major companies such as Welte and Hupfeld sought from the start to engage famous performers for their systems, and in 1906 Grieg recorded his works for both firms.

This according to “Die Tonaufzeichnung und Edvard Grieg” by Eszter Fontana, an essay included in Edvard Grieg: Weltbild und Werk (Altenmedingen: Junker, 2005, pp. 138–146).

Today is Grieg’s 170th birthday! Below, one of his piano rolls brings his piano playing into the 21st century

Related article: Stravinsky and recording

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