The Piano

Susan Tomes


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Yale University Press
25 October 2022
ISBN: 9780300267051
400 pages

From the publisher

A fascinating history of the piano explored through 100 pieces chosen by one of the UK’s most renowned concert pianists
“Tomes . . . casts her net widely, taking in chamber music and concertos, knotty avant-garde masterworks and (most welcome) jazz.”—Richard Fairman, Financial Times, “Best Books of 2021: Classical Music”
“[One of] the most beautiful books I got my hands on this year. . . . About the shaping of this maddening, glorious, unconquerable instrument.”—Jenny Colgan, Spectator, “Books of the Year”
An astonishingly versatile instrument, the piano allows just two hands to play music of great complexity and subtlety. For more than two hundred years, it has brought solo and collaborative music into homes and concert halls and has inspired composers in every musical genre—from classical to jazz and light music.
Charting the development of the piano from the late eighteenth century to the present day, pianist and writer Susan Tomes takes the reader with her on a personal journey through 100 pieces including solo works, chamber music, concertos, and jazz. Her choices include composers such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Gershwin, and Philip Glass. Looking at this history from a modern performer’s perspective, she acknowledges neglected women composers and players including Fanny Mendelssohn, Maria Szymanowska, Clara Schumann, and Amy Beach.