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A newly discovered old approach to classical piano

By Erlend Buflaten Posted: 31. Aug, 2015

Christina Kobb has learned the technique of 19th century composers (Photo: Torleif Torgersen)

To hear the classical piano pieces as intended when written, we have to use the technique of the time, researcher Christina Kobb has discovered.

Researcher and pianist Christina Kobb  from the Norwegian Academy of Music and Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo recently visited New York where she was invited to play fortepiano at a festival at Cornell University. The backdrop for the special invite is an ongoing research program. Kobb has spent the last years researching, and learning, 200 year old piano techniques and teamed up with Rolf Inge Godøy of the University of Oslo to understand how changing techniques have had an impact to the sound.

New York Times wrote about Kobb and the research program and the attention that follow has been massive, and surreal, Kobb tells us.

– To be honest, the thought of a major newspaper being interested in my music and research, had never struck me! So when journalist Rachel Nuwer first contacted me, I almost deleted her e-mail as I thought it was spam! I was completely unprepared, as neither classical musicians nor academics tend to be the target of media attention. It feels unreal to come across excerpts of the article appearing in languages I can’t read, such as Chinese, Portuguese and Albanian…and of course to watch the soaring number of views on my video.

A Youtube video where Kobb shows and explains the techniques has taken off, surpassing 150.000 views following the NYT article. Watch it below.

– The many, many views of a video originally intended for my doctoral committee only, is extremely surprising to me. People must care about piano music! Maybe they love pianos, but hate concert halls…?, Kobb asks.

After seeing the massive response, Kobb came up with an idea for a project to further promote the use of piano.

– When trying to figure out how I could use all the attention for something significant, I came up with the idea of PianoShelters – a place where good pianos that no one wants anymore can be used in service to people of any age, origin, social status or musical preference. Likewise, anyone is welcome to teach or make a musical contribution to the community. Not the least in a time where multitudes of people find themselves in desperate circumstances, we need to look for new ways to reach out and actively create meaningful connections. The familiarity and versatility of pianos make them great tools for just that. Pianos connect people!

 

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