Today I stumbled upon this lovely essay in a great aggregator blog called 3QuarksDaily. In The Literature of the Piano, Bryant Urstadt details his current reading tour – what he terms ‘another time-wasting obsession’ – of literature about the piano, prompted by his daughter recently taking up piano lessons. He wanders through some of the piano memoirs that have appeared in recent years, wondering why it is this instrument of all musical instruments that inspires so many literary responses. After reading Perri Knize’s Grand Obsession, “essentially a book about going crazy”, Urstadt notes: “As an author, I am frankly curious to know how she managed to sell a proposal for a book about getting a piano properly tuned.”
My own work on women and piano music creeps forward slowly. I’m currently researching the first piano music concerts in Europe, featuring women and children, which were marketed as freak shows.