Today: McKeldin 08:00AM - 05:00PM

What is a Piano Tradition?

Broadly speaking, a Piano Tradition is the synthesis of an accumulation of characteristics relating to all aspects of piano playing, including execution, technique, interpretation, sound, performance, teaching, aesthetics and musical education. The elements that configure a Piano Tradition are the result of combined specific and general approaches. These approaches emerge in a particular place and under a particular pianist or group of pianists and, subsequently, are transmitted from generation to generation. In other words, a Piano Tradition is not a specific building or conservatory but, rather, is a way of understanding piano playing that manifests itself under idiosyncratic circumstances. However, it can be sometimes associated with a particular music conservatory or school.

Since Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the piano in 1700 and with the emergence of the first composer-pianists in the history of music, several piano traditions became visible over the following decades. The first Piano Traditions surfaced with such key figures as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). The style of piano playing by each one of these composers was different, therefore initiating contrasting, yet connected tendencies in the history of piano interpretation. All the major Piano Traditions which we encounter throughout history diverge, in one way or another, from the above-mentioned pianists and unrepeatable personalities. Over the decades, traditions evolved, changed, and built upon pre-existing concepts and disseminated around the world until the present day, and continue to do so.

Most Piano Traditions can be traced back to C.P.E. Bach through Jan Ladislav Dussek; to Clementi through his students Ludwig Berger, John Field or Francesco Lanza; to Mozart, through Johann Nepomuk Hummel or Thomas Atwood; and to Beethoven through Carl Czerny, whose pupils Franz Liszt and Theodor Leschetizky taught an enormous number of pianists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and had a profound and lasting impact on universal piano playing until our time.

The Piano Traditions Through Genealogy Trees intends to cover as many pianists and teachers as possible throughout the history of pianism. For that purpose, we have created dozens of genealogies, representing both individual pianists, such as The Frédéric Chopin and The Heinrich Neuhaus traditions, and national or regional schools of playing, such as The Russian or The English schools of piano playing. Therefore, our final goal is to develop a specific Piano Tradition for each pianist or teacher who had a significant number of noteworthy students.

© 2021, by Daniel Pereira