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Book Review: Natural History of the Piano
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Author: Zachary Lewis
'A Natural History of the Piano' by Stuart Isacoff strikes a pleasing note

A Natural History of the Piano: The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians--from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between

Writing about music is notoriously difficult. Because it's abstract, most authors on the subject either rely on technicalities or yield to ambiguity.

Stuart Isacoff does neither. With the enjoyable "A Natural History of the Piano," he delivers that rarest of treats: a substantial book about music that's actually easy to read.

Some classical and jazz aficionados, especially, may wish for more depth. None, though, will complain of dullness, or fail to linger over the illustrations of composers, performers and the changing instrument.

The book's strongest passages are those in which Isacoff, an award-winning music journalist, dwells on the instrument itself, relating several fascinating tales about its invention, metamorphosis and extra-musical developments.

There's a reason, Isacoff explains, why the piano was first called pianoforte. In contrast to the harpsichord and other keyboard instruments, the piano, with its hammered strings, was prized for its ability to play........

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