Forte / Piano: A Festival Celebrating Pianos in History

How have the practices of composition, performance, improvisation, and listening been informed by the piano in its long history? How have the concepts, designs, materials, and sonorous resources of pianos been entwined with musical thought and affect across time and space? Specifically, how might we resituate eighteenth-century pianos in relation to harpsichords and clavichords, account for the rapid evolution of nineteenth-century pianism, and explain (or challenge) Steinway’s perceived hegemony in the twentieth century?

The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies invites proposals for recitals, talks and innovative presentations from performers, scholars, organologists, builders, and technicians for an international festival to be held at Cornell University on August 5–9, 2015. We particularly encourage individual and collaborative proposals that combine insights drawn from scholarship, performance, and organology and examine the ways in which pianos have generated, reflected, and modulated musical thought and behavior.

Proposals may focus on composers, performance traditions, improvisatory methods, and geographical centers of influence. Potential topics include Haydn’s keyboard music; Brahms’s piano music; the piano in early twentieth-century Paris; the piano in late eighteenth-century London; the improvisation of cadenzas, fantasias, and preludes; the standardization of piano manufacture in the context of industrialization; pedagogical institutions; the piano, bodily techniques, and the performance of gender.

The festival will feature a number of leading performers, including Tom Beghin, Kris Bezuidenhout, Malcolm Bilson, David Breitman, Penelope Crawford, Alexei Lubimov, and Andrew Willis among many others. The festival will focus on an array of historical instruments and replicas built by prominent builders. We encourage proposals that will take advantage of the opportunities these instruments afford, and will provide more specific information on request. Potential presentation formats include (but are not limited to) traditional conference papers, lecture-recitals, lecture-demonstrations, and discussion panels.

Proposals should include a 250-word description and a CV, and for performers, a sound or video recording of at least 30 minutes. The submission deadline is September 15, 2014. Proposals may be submitted online at www.westfield.org/festival

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