From the Library — Piano-issimo

It’s a clas­si­cal week­end here on Radio Riel, and today we explore the mar­vel­lous world of clas­si­cal piano music, includ­ing all your favourite piano con­cer­tos — Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Rach­mani­nov, Gersh­win and many more; along with solo piano works by the likes of Fau­re, Poulenc, Chopin, Debussy and Rav­el… and some unusu­al pieces from less­er-known com­posers like Louis More­au Gottschalk, born in New Orleans in 1829 and well-known in his time as a piano vir­tu­oso as well as a won­der­ful­ly acces­si­ble Roman­tic com­pos­er.

There are also some slight­ly unusu­al instru­ments on the pro­gramme today, such as a “pro­to-piano”, the Fortepi­ano.

Pianoforte”, the piano’s full name, means “Soft-Loud”, and refers to the instru­men­t’s impres­sive dynam­ic range, from the very soft­est notes to thun­der­ing chords. One rea­son that’s pos­si­ble is because the piano is actu­al­ly a per­cus­sion instru­ment, with ham­mers hit­ting the strings when you press the keys. Its pre­de­ces­sors, like the harp­si­chord, plucked the strings and thus offered much less in the way of dynam­ics. The Fortepi­ano was an ear­li­er attempt at the piano, but it lacked the sus­tain and full­ness of the pianoforte. Indeed, the piano as we know it today was delib­er­ate­ly made more pow­er­ful and full-sound­ing — includ­ing adding mul­ti­ple strings per note, a met­al frame and a sus­tain ped­al, dur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry so that it could hold its own against a full orches­tra with­out the ben­e­fit of ampli­fi­ca­tion.

Oth­er unusu­al instru­ments in today’s pro­gramme include the Pianola and the Repro­duc­ing Piano. The Pianola was an attach­ment to a reg­u­lar piano, with ham­mers that pressed on the keys in response to instruc­tions from a punched paper roll. The tem­po and dynam­ics were sup­plied by the oper­a­tor, who ped­alled more or less furi­ous­ly to get the desired effect. The Repro­duc­ing Piano takes that one stage fur­ther, with the pianoroll mech­a­nism built-in and with a record­ing capa­bil­i­ty too, which could cap­ture a play­er’s dynam­ics.

It’s a ver­i­ta­ble feast of clas­si­cal and neo-clas­si­cal piano music today on Radio Riel, and we do hope you enjoy it.

And don’t for­get to join us at 11am and 7pm SLT (19:00 and 0:300 UK time) for the 9th install­ment of our two thrilling ZBS seri­als: The Fourth Tow­er of Inver­ness and, at the half-hour, Ruby the Galac­tic Detec­tive, brought to you cour­tesy of our friends at You can tune in at home, or join us in the Claren­don Con­ser­va­to­ry in New Bab­bage (

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme now at in-world, or sim­ply click here.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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