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Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by computerpro3
I am a classical pianist and the ideal has always been a top-flight concert grand. It's what a lot of the music I play was composed for (romantic repertoire is my forte) and that is the period of music that sounds the worst on uprights in my opinion. Stuff like Bach WTC and Mozart can sound pretty darn good on uprights (I still think they do not have purity of tone that grands do), but I have never played an upright that can handle forte, densely textured romantic music without sounding either congested, hollow, or weak. Of course, I've not played every upright in existence - perhaps there are some out there that can do so. But I've actually never even played an upright that I preferred to an entry level Chinese made grand (a good one like from the Dongbei factories).

.

The piano in anything like its present form was not around in those days you speak of. The pianos of their time would not pass muster with most of us here and would surely be surpassed by a decent modern upright for sound, and probably even the action.
Too, it's worth considering whether the music we (you) play was ever intended to be played so fast on such instruments as they were then.
That the music lends itself so beautifully to modern day equipment (grands, uprights, digitals) would indicate clearly that our instruments are indeed designed to play these classics, and to a better standard in most cases, than the originals could ever achieve.
Those guys were so far ahead of their time. Perhaps we need to learn to appreciate the not-inconsiderable advantages of what we currently have.
As for comparisons; the obvious is a decent period piano against anything we have, acoustic or digital.

I'm sorry, this is incorrect. The grand piano absolutely was around when romantic music like Rachmaninov, Busoni, Scriabin, etc were composed (which is what I've been consistently referring to the whole time). This is what I meant by "densely textured, forte romantic music."

Last edited by computerpro3; 08/10/21 06:20 AM.
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In case you don't think grand pianos were around during Rachmaninov's time, here's a picture of him literally sitting at a Steinway grand (not an upright): https://www.steinway.com/artists/sergei-rachmaninoff

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Originally Posted by computerpro3
Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by computerpro3
I am a classical pianist and the ideal has always been a top-flight concert grand. It's what a lot of the music I play was composed for (romantic repertoire is my forte) and that is the period of music that sounds the worst on uprights in my opinion. Stuff like Bach WTC and Mozart can sound pretty darn good on uprights (I still think they do not have purity of tone that grands do), but I have never played an upright that can handle forte, densely textured romantic music without sounding either congested, hollow, or weak. Of course, I've not played every upright in existence - perhaps there are some out there that can do so. But I've actually never even played an upright that I preferred to an entry level Chinese made grand (a good one like from the Dongbei factories).

.

The piano in anything like its present form was not around in those days you speak of. The pianos of their time would not pass muster with most of us here and would surely be surpassed by a decent modern upright for sound, and probably even the action.
Too, it's worth considering whether the music we (you) play was ever intended to be played so fast on such instruments as they were then.
That the music lends itself so beautifully to modern day equipment (grands, uprights, digitals) would indicate clearly that our instruments are indeed designed to play these classics, and to a better standard in most cases, than the originals could ever achieve.
Those guys were so far ahead of their time. Perhaps we need to learn to appreciate the not-inconsiderable advantages of what we currently have.
As for comparisons; the obvious is a decent period piano against anything we have, acoustic or digital.

I'm sorry, this is incorrect. The grand piano absolutely was around when romantic music like Rachmaninov, Busoni, Scriabin, etc were composed (which is what I've been consistently referring to the whole time). This is what I meant by "densely textured, forte romantic music."


I never said it wasn't. . . . .


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Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by computerpro3
Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by computerpro3
I am a classical pianist and the ideal has always been a top-flight concert grand. It's what a lot of the music I play was composed for (romantic repertoire is my forte) and that is the period of music that sounds the worst on uprights in my opinion.
.

The piano in anything like its present form was not around in those days you speak of. T

I'm sorry, this is incorrect. The grand piano absolutely was around when romantic music like Rachmaninov, Busoni, Scriabin, etc were composed (which is what I've been consistently referring to the whole time). This is what I meant by "densely textured, forte romantic music."


I never said it wasn't. . . . .

It is difficult to have a discussion when our views of reality are so different.

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Peter never said the grand was not around in the distant past.

But the pianos of the 19th century were quite different from those made today. And I think that was his point.

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Pianos of the late 19th century are not that different at all from those made today, with the exception of some of the Japanese pianos like Kawai that have pushed advanced materials. A Steinway from back then - provided it is in good shape and has been taken care of and rebuilt - will play largely the same as a modern one. I've played on a bunch of them, including Horowitz's personal instrument twice. That one had a notably light action to his preference, but other than that it was just a modern Steinway.

What you are saying is true for classical era and perhaps early romantic, but not late romantic. And once again, you're deluding yourselves if you think that Rachmaninov/Busoni/Scriabin played or preferred uprights over grands.

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Who are you replying to? Your post heading indicates that you're replying to OU812. But he has not been present in this part of the conversation.

Your text suggests that you're replying to me. But I never gave any opinion as to what those composers preferred.

So whuzzup with all that?

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Originally Posted by computerpro3
Honestly, I do not think that sounds good. It has a thin, pop-ish sound to it that works well with the aesthetic of the piece.
Agreed. It sounds great for new-age and electronica style music. It's expected with such a small resonant chamber.

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Wasn't Horowitz's piano completely rebuilt (with a brand new action, among other things) after his death?

Anyways, I don't think Peter ever said the grand piano didn't exist back then, just that those period instruments were very different to what we know know (design, projection, touch, hammer size, string tension, etc.).


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Originally Posted by computerpro3
Originally Posted by peterws
Originally Posted by computerpro3
I am a classical pianist and the ideal has always been a top-flight concert grand. It's what a lot of the music I play was composed for (romantic repertoire is my forte) and that is the period of music that sounds the worst on uprights in my opinion. Stuff like Bach WTC and Mozart can sound pretty darn good on uprights (I still think they do not have purity of tone that grands do), but I have never played an upright that can handle forte, densely textured romantic music without sounding either congested, hollow, or weak. Of course, I've not played every upright in existence - perhaps there are some out there that can do so. But I've actually never even played an upright that I preferred to an entry level Chinese made grand (a good one like from the Dongbei factories).

.

The piano in anything like its present form was not around in those days you speak of. The pianos of their time would not pass muster with most of us here and would surely be surpassed by a decent modern upright for sound, and probably even the action.
Too, it's worth considering whether the music we (you) play was ever intended to be played so fast on such instruments as they were then.
That the music lends itself so beautifully to modern day equipment (grands, uprights, digitals) would indicate clearly that our instruments are indeed designed to play these classics, and to a better standard in most cases, than the originals could ever achieve.
Those guys were so far ahead of their time. Perhaps we need to learn to appreciate the not-inconsiderable advantages of what we currently have.
As for comparisons; the obvious is a decent period piano against anything we have, acoustic or digital.

I'm sorry, this is incorrect. The grand piano absolutely was around when romantic music like Rachmaninov, Busoni, Scriabin, etc were composed (which is what I've been consistently referring to the whole time). This is what I meant by "densely textured, forte romantic music."

Having once owned a Chickering 33B, an 8'4" grand with straight strung action from the early 1870's, I can say with confidence that the sound of that instrument differed from the sound of a modern grand by more than the sound of modern upright differs from the sound of a modern grand. If you want an instrument that has a tonal rendition authentically close to a romantic era piano, I would suggest a pre-1925 Steinway, Knabe, or Mason & Hamlin grand if you are in the US.

A number of vintage uprights also come closer to a vintage grand sound than a modern grand.

The sound of romantic era music on a modern grand is what you hear in concert halls today, and what you hear on modern recordings, so it is what you have taken as your standard for what it should sound like. That's fine. But it is not historically accurate.

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If you want an instrument that has a tonal rendition authentically close to a romantic era piano, I would suggest a pre-1925 Steinway, Knabe, or Mason & Hamlin grand if you are in the US.
And by that I mean close to a late romantic piano, not close to Chopin's piano.

I would also add that Chopin completed the Preludes in Majorca, and composed technically difficult ones like 28/24 in Dm on the piano he and Georges Sand brought with them, which was an upright.

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
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If you want an instrument that has a tonal rendition authentically close to a romantic era piano, I would suggest a pre-1925 Steinway, Knabe, or Mason & Hamlin grand if you are in the US.
And by that I mean close to a late romantic piano, not close to Chopin's piano.

I would also add that Chopin completed the Preludes in Majorca, and composed technically difficult ones like 28/24 in Dm on the piano he and Georges Sand brought with them, which was an upright.

The Pleyel upright piano that Chopin ordered only arrived two or three weeks before the end of his four month winter stay in Majorca. This means he did not compose on the Pleyel piano that can be seen today in the museum located in the monastery where he and Sand stayed, but on an old battered upright, which was the only piano locally available. Nevertheless, it seems Chopin was continuously complaining about the rainy weather and not about that old piano somehow limiting his composition abilities...

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it would seem therefore that the old upright did not limit his abilities. I never would've thought it myself . . .


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Originally Posted by peterws
it would seem therefore that the old upright did not limit his abilities. I never would've thought it myself . . .

There are people who compose and orchestrate entirely in their heads. I think outside of a performer, the advantages/limitations between grand and upright pianos is probably not great.

And inside of a performer, there's probably not enough room for either.


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Originally Posted by acdp
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
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If you want an instrument that has a tonal rendition authentically close to a romantic era piano, I would suggest a pre-1925 Steinway, Knabe, or Mason & Hamlin grand if you are in the US.
And by that I mean close to a late romantic piano, not close to Chopin's piano.

I would also add that Chopin completed the Preludes in Majorca, and composed technically difficult ones like 28/24 in Dm on the piano he and Georges Sand brought with them, which was an upright.

The Pleyel upright piano that Chopin ordered only arrived two or three weeks before the end of his four month winter stay in Majorca. This means he did not compose on the Pleyel piano that can be seen today in the museum located in the monastery where he and Sand stayed, but on an old battered upright, which was the only piano locally available. Nevertheless, it seems Chopin was continuously complaining about the rainy weather and not about that old piano somehow limiting his composition abilities...

Sand and Chopin traveled with the piano. The issue was petty bureaucrats of the time wanting to extract exorbitant import duties. This is described in Sand's "A Winter in Mallorca". It has been a while since I read her travelogue, but I believe they did take possession of the piano a bit earlier than 3-4 weeks before they departed. The Mallorcan aurhorities also wanted Sand and Chopin to pay exorbitant export duties to take the piano back to France, so they sold it to a local resident.

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Originally Posted by computerpro3
I'm sorry, this is incorrect. The grand piano absolutely was around when romantic music like Rachmaninov, Busoni, Scriabin, etc were composed (which is what I've been consistently referring to the whole time). This is what I meant by "densely textured, forte romantic music."

I think you guys are talking past each other. A top-end piano of the 1830's (the golden decade of Romantic music) was maybe 80% of a modern grand in terms both of sound and action. If you played one without knowing any better you'd think there was something wrong with it.

The first truly modern pianos rolled out of Steinway's factories in the 1870's afaik. They'd look old fashioned on the outside with ornate rims/ligs and painted with cherubs and such but would have been mechanically identical to a generic concert grand of today. So, yeah, the pianos that would have been familiar to Rach and Busoni but... to most people when you say Romantic it's Chopin and Liszt that comes to mind.

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Originally Posted by Gombessa
Wasn't Horowitz's piano completely rebuilt (with a brand new action, among other things) after his death?

It was partially rebuilt, but I don't think it was done immediately afterward (am having trouble finding what year it happened). If memory serves, most of what was changed was the action, and I do not believe it was returned to the peculiar specifications that Horowitz preferred. It still has the original soundboard, which is rather beautiful in color and grain pattern. I tuned it once and played it a little, the piano was very powerful and pretty worn. Started to play some of the pieces that I knew he played on it, then sort of felt a little self-conscious and stopped.


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The first truly modern pianos rolled out of Steinway's factories in the 1870's afaik.
It depends on whether you define a modern piano as having an iron plate or as having an overstrung iron plate.

Chickering had pianos with iron plates well before Steinway, the first of which was about 1840 and was a square grand. The Chickering 33B was introduced in the 1860's and was an 8'4" concert grand of traditional grand shape with a straight strung iron plate. Liszt owned one, which is now in the Liszt museum, along with a large Bosendorfer he also owned. These were his preferred pianos at that phase of his life, but he used an upright piano during an extended stay in Florence:

https://www.cobbecollection.co.uk/collection/36-liszts-italian-upright-piano/

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Originally Posted by Sweelinck
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The first truly modern pianos rolled out of Steinway's factories in the 1870's afaik.
It depends on whether you define a modern piano as having an iron plate or as having an overstrung iron plate.

Chickering had pianos with iron plates well before Steinway, the first of which was about 1840 and was a square grand. The Chickering 33B was introduced in the 1860's and was an 8'4" concert grand of traditional grand shape with a straight strung iron plate. Liszt owned one, which is now in the Liszt museum, along with a large Bosendorfer he also owned. These were his preferred pianos at that phase of his life, but he used an upright piano during an extended stay in Florence:

https://www.cobbecollection.co.uk/collection/36-liszts-italian-upright-piano/

I realize this is controversial to the point of being argumentative. To me overstringing was the last significant innovation, which came in 1859 from Steinway, but small refinements in (I think) the geometry of the plate, rim construction and action continued for another decade or so which then ended up being widely adopted by other brands. This last point I think is critical because other improvements that weren't widely co-opted by other manufacturers became more or less irrelevant.

Here is, coincidentally, an 1859 Erard which would have been considered the state of the art then and which I think most would agree is a step or two behind what one would consider a fully modern piano.


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Sounds like it's down to the hammers . . . .a bit more felt and she'll be right . . .but, yes! You can play good stuff on them thar oldies!

Last edited by peterws; 08/11/21 01:42 AM.

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