As regular readers of this blog will know, I always enjoy introducing piano resources.
Pianists Corner is a new website specifically for pianists.
Pianists Corner is the brainchild of French engineer and scientist Bruno Saint-Germain. Bruno, who is based in Paris, has been building this site for the past few years. It’s a direct result of his interest in the history of pianists. Bruno, who trained as an engineer and computer scientist (and he also ran his own record label for many years), was able to imagine ‘how to visualize the data related to the construction of pianistic filiations’, or how to connect the piano teacher/pupil lineage over many hundreds of years. And this is the beauty of Pianists Corner.
This website does offer what one might expect: it contains lists of pianists past and present, as well as an area for piano resources, and another which names all the world’s music conservatoires, plus a list of their past and present teachers. It also highlights recorded performances and some ‘live stream’ events, too. However, the real point of interest, at least for myself, and, I suspect, for many other pianists and teachers as well, is the fact that Pianists Corner has the technology to offer a ‘piano teacher’ genealogy map which can hark back as far as four centuries, and all at the click of your mouse.
The Pianists Corner website was originally a continuation of another project for Bruno, whose purpose was to create a large poster featuring a map of piano pedagogy lineage going back over four centuries. The research to find the necessary information eventually proffered a database of over 1700 pianists. But, due to lack of space, a limit was imposed to include only those pianists born before 1950. This large map (1m60 X 1m20) was named Masters of the Keyboard.
At that time, Bruno realised that there was a vast array of pianists missing from the site, and the main challenge was finding an effective and dynamic method of designing a map able to fit on a computer screen. Specific research and technological developments were evolved to find a suitable solution, and one that allowed visitors to see the filiations in the form of mathematical graphs.
The current version of Pianists Corner contains more than 7000 pianists. In recent years, Bruno’s team has expanded to include Patrick Aiach, who has notably contributed to the data base and has also contacted pianists around the world for this purpose. And, more recently, content editor Manuel Gaulhiac has completed the team.
To demonstrate how Pianists Corner might be of interest, here is my own ‘piano teacher’ genealogy map. I studied the piano with Patricia Carroll, Tatiana Sarkissova, and John Lill. To the left of the following image, you can view my details, and as you look to the map, which is to the right of the image, you can view my piano teacher ‘descendants’, starting with my myself (at the bottom of the map, outlined in red), and my teachers (highlighted in green), with previous generations of teachers appearing above in grey:
The image above encompasses around two hundred years of teacher lineage, but a second image (below), goes back much further, with far more information:
For me, it was a fascinating discovery to see that my ‘lineage’ includes Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Hans Von Bulow, Johannes Brahms, Carl Tausig, Tobias Matthay, and even Franz Liszt!
To find this information for yourself, go to the Pianists Corner home page and click ‘Find a Pianist’, and then type the surname of the pianist you want to check in the box to the left. Click on their name and their ‘page’ will show, with all their details. Find the ‘Genealogy’ tab, which is the fourth tab along underneath the pianist’s name; click on this to take you to ‘Build a Genealogy’. Click the plus (+) sign to the right, next to ‘Create list of teachers’, and, finally, keep clicking the same + sign and watch the number of teachers expand with every click. You can also move the photo of each teacher with the red ‘toggle’ tab at the bottom of the screen. And if you click on the pianist’s photo, all their biographical information will appear.
This technology can also be useful to find celebrated pianists or teachers and their pupils. The following image displays Austrian-American pianist Artur Schnabel’s teachers, as well as his students:
I enjoyed viewing Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt’s genealogy map:
Over the next few months Pianists Corner will be sharing my Classical Conversations, which are a series of forty filmed interviews with renowned pianists and pedagogues. Filmed a few years ago, these interviews will be placed on the site every week, beginning last week, with Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg’s interview (click here). And this week’s Classical Conversation features my interview with Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa, which you can view, here.
Follow Pianists Corner on their Blogsite.
Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.
For more information, please visit the publications page, here.