Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Trim: 8¾ x 11⅜
978-0-8108-8879-1 • Hardback • November 2016 • $111.00 • (£85.00)
978-0-8108-8880-7 • eBook • November 2016 • $105.00 • (£77.00)
Stephen Siek is a pianist, musicologist, and piano historian. He is former professor of music at Wittenberg University and is author of England's Piano Sage: The Life and Teachings of Tobias Matthay (2011).
A Few Words About Recordings
Appendix ADictionary Entries Listed by Category
Appendix B A Brief Overview of the Acoustic Piano’s Action for the Performer
Appendix CHistorical Pianos and their Relationship to the Standard Repertoire
by Edmund Michael Frederick
Appendix DDigital Pianos in the Modern Pianist’s World by S. David Berry
Appendix EThe Player Piano and the Reproducing Piano by Robert J. Berkman
A Dictionary for the Modern Pianist is an important reference work for public or academic libraries and university music departments as well as the private collections of pianists and teachers. Most readers will easily understand the terminology and engage with the clear and straightforward writing. The reading level is appropriate for both secondary and collegiate audiences, and the sturdy hardcopy binding will withstand use from a number of students perusing the volume for assignments or just leisure reading. Piano teachers discussing the performance practices of particular compositions could refer to the book’s entries on specific pianists known for performing those works. Also, while demonstrating a performance technique, they could consult an illustration of the components of the piano to illuminate how to produce specific sounds or effects. Beyond library and department offices, this is a handy book to keep in the piano studio for pedagogical purposes.
— Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association
Although far from comprehensive, this dictionary is a handy resource for both piano technicians and instructors. Written by pianist-scholar Siek, it touches on major pianists of classical, jazz, and pop genres, as well as famous teachers and pedagogical theorists. A unique focus of the work is its information about major and lesser-known piano manufacturers, featuring company history and considerable background on the production of pianos. Also included are terms related to the construction and action of the acoustic piano. Several essays that appear as appendixes in the volume shed light on historical pianos in relation to the standard repertoire, covering player, reproducing, and digital pianos. A preface by the author sets up the work's nearly 400 well-executed entries, which vary in length from a paragraph (e.g., ‘Aeolian Company’) to several pages (‘Steinway & Sons’), and include bolded cross-references pointing to related discussions. Some of the dictionary's entries offer color photographs and others have helpful diagrams. A selected bibliography concludes the work. Recommended for all libraries supporting piano performance and technician programs.
Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates through professionals/practitioners; general readers.
— Choice Reviews
On matters pianistic [Siek] knows whereof he speaks, and his Dictionary, apart from being scholarly and elegantly-written, is far more than a bald Wikipedian recitation of facts: it is a hymn of love to the piano, joining other classic volumes on the subject such as Harold Schonberg's The Great Pianists and David Dubal's The Art of the Piano....It's the kind of book that the 10 minutes you intended to spend in its company will stretch to 30 before you realise it. All of this is superbly handled, a goldmine of information to the connoisseur and newcomer alike.... If Siek has a hidden agenda, it is surely to stimulate, inspire, intrigue, and, yes, entertain those who take little heed of his subject's hinterland, historical legacy, recordings and great names of the past.
— International Piano Magazine
A Dictionary for the Modern Pianist is a well-produced book. The binding is strong and the quality of the paper is excellent. The text is laid out in double columns on each page. The font is readable in all cases. There are several musical examples as well as a few in-text tables and photographs. Naturally, there will be a demand for this book in university and music-college libraries as well as many county and city reference libraries around the world…. There are three main areas where this book is essential reading. Firstly, reviewers, critics, historians or performers wishing for an immediate ‘heads up’ on a pianist or pianistic matter will turn to this book as an entry point as it is specifically designed for pianists and those interested in the subject. Secondly, Siek has presented more detail about the pianists’ style and technique than standard dictionary entries. And thirdly, it is a fascinating book to ‘dip into’ just like the above-mentioned Percy Scholes Oxford Companion to Music. There is always so much to learn. I believe that Stephen Siek has provided a wide-ranging and reliable coverage of many facets of the pianistic art.
— MusicWeb International
Siek opens with two considerations: new technologies of digital keyboards are evolving at a quick pace; colleges or conservatories increasingly emphasize music on instruments constructed during the composer’s lifetime—period instruments. . . .The entries for pianists include those who perform, compose, and teach classical (art music), jazz, and popular styles. . . .Siek presents a bibliography of more general sources. The author uses the Acoustic Society of America (ASA) standard for pitch identification, outlined on page ix. The Modified Hemholtz system is presented for comparison, as many museums use Hemholtz. Entries include well placed cross-references in the articles (as bold print) to guide users to relevant entries. These prove especially useful in the biographies (linking pianists to their teachers), piano manufacturers, such as Aeolian Company and Knabe (linking these to mergers or competitors), and genres, such as rag or ragtime (linking to composers and notable performers). . . .Siek presents quick access to major piano manufacturers and performers.
— American Reference Books Annual
There has not been a new pianist dictionary for more than thirty years—at least not in English…
This dictionary is unlike previous ones—it does not attempt to list and give details of every pianist of note, as previous efforts have attempted (and failed). It does contain biographical articles on a selection of the most important pianists of interest to our time and use. Of course it is just one man’s idea of what that selection should contain, as any similar book is. Luckily Siek’s choice turns out to be that of an informed and wise man… Siek understands that pianists don’t exist without pianos, and knowledge and understanding of the history and construction of pianos is equally vital. There are even articles on specific parts of pianos, such as agraffes and capo d’astro bars, something sorely needed in a book like this, for pianists and piano students are more ignorant of their own instrument than any other musicians… Siek has thought long and hard about our field and the results of his broad scope and much-considered understanding are much in evidence in the volume…This book as a physical object is appealing and handsome, beautifully designed and laid out… I highly recommend it.
— Gregor Benko, cofounder of the International Piano Archives and recipient of the Medal of the American Liszt Society
Please ... allow me ... to express ... my unqualified admiration for a truly worthwhile volume, meticulously researched and beautifully rendered. It lives at exactly eye-level, twelve inches to my left, in company with the primary pianist reference books by Harold Schonberg, Abram Chasins, and Jan Holcman.
— Francis Crociata, Rachmaninoff scholar and President of the Leo Sowerby Foundation