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Piano season on the BBC

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Graeme Kay Graeme Kay | 17:55 UK Time, Thursday, 13 September 2012

Lang Lang

Lang Lang - champion of Piano Season on the BBC

Piano Season on the BBC is a six-week celebration of the piano and its music, on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four.

This updated Blog brings together all the latest news about Piano Season on the BBC - if you'd like to revisit some of last week's highlights, including Peter Donohoe's Fifty Great Pianists and a selection of piano performances on Radio 3, visit the Piano Collection.

We've also added Podcasts of Radio 3's PIano A-Z programmes, which you can download here. You can also hear a podcast of Dame Fanny Waterman talking to Sean Rafferty about the Leeds International Piano Competition, early nights and avoiding television before bed...


In the final full week of Piano Season on the BBC we celebrate things Russian. Essential Classics presents a selection of recordings across the week from some of the greatest names of Russian pianism. Through the Night offers archive recordings on Sunday night from Richter, Lhevinne, Cherkassky, Horowitz, Berman and Scriabin; Composer of the Week focuses on the friendship and musical relationship between Sergei Rachmaninov and Nikolai Medtner

The final Monday recital comes from Edinburgh and features a towering virtuosic set of variations from one of the 20th Century’s musical mavericks, the American Frederic Rzewski’s 'The People United Shall Never Be Defeated'.  New Generation Artist Igor Levit is the pianist in what will be a rare chance to hear this astonishing work live. And on Music Matters tomorrow, Tom Service meets Rzewski to talk about his life and music.

On Monday 22 October a tour de force of a different kind appears on Jazz on 3 - a specially recorded jazz relay in which a team of prominent jazz pianists challenge each other to see what is possible when improvising on a theme.

On Sunday 28 October, Sunday Morning profiles the great pianist, Artur Schnabel.

Then of course there’s the continuing story of In Tune’s A-Z (starting on Monday with V for 'Virtuoso'); and Peter Donohoe’s final Breakfast run-down of his 50 Piano Greats;  and looking ahead to the following Monday – Pudsey at the piano!   


As part of the season, many BBC presenters across national and local programmes who are having a go at learning the piano as part of Piano Season on the BBC. They include:
Jane Garvey from Radio 4 (there's a chance to catch up on her progress in next Friday's In Tune), Dr Mark Porter from BBC Science, Tim Smith from Radio 2, Tommy Sandhu from the Asian Network, and Jez Nelson from Radio 3. Nicky Campbell from 5live plays piano already by ear so his challenge is to have jazz piano lessons. Radio 1's Dev is having lessons…(you can see him introducing himself to his teacher here) - and other learners include Olympic medallist Samantha Murray and weather presenter Carol Kirkwood.

All learners will have the opportunity to participate in a live Piano Gala as part BBC Children in Need on 29th October – this will be broadcast in Live in Concert.

BBC Four's programmes on the 2012 Leeds International Piano Competition continue on Friday evenings at 730pm and there's a Jazz Extravaganza coming from Trinity Laban College, Greenwich.

The season will culminate on the 6th of November with a special episode of Imagine on BBC One, focusing on Lang Lang as he turns 30.

And finally, participation: you can email your requests for piano music on Radio3's Breakfast show to 3breakfast@bbc.co.uk, and any other piano-related questions to pianoseason@bbc.co.uk’ when they will be answered on our ‘Piano Keys’ programmes on Monday nights during the interval of ‘Radio 3 Live in Concert’.




  • Comment number 1.

    Listening to the final night of Leeds Competition. The moment Andrew Tyson touched the keyboard, you knew something special was about to happen. All the finalists are wonderful but Andrew is a pure musician - a vehicle for the music.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the order of the winners will be

    1)Jayson Gilham
    2)Louis Schwizgebel
    3)Andrew Tyson
    4)Federico colli
    6)Jiayan sun

  • Comment number 3.

    Delighted by the launch of the Piano Season. Is there any possibility of hearing a repeat performance of a remarkably fine performance given by Martin Roscoe and two pianists whose names escape me (sorry!) of a Sonata for three pianos by Samuel Wesley. I was present in Belfast's Elmwood Hall for the performance/recording a fair number of years ago and thought it was a real discovery - surely deserving a repeat?

  • Comment number 4.

    Thoroughly enjoying this focus on the piano - hope we hear less well known works from less famous composers - some of York Bowen (the English Rachmaninov) works for example.
    What about Violin season , cello season etc unimaginative I know but why not?

  • Comment number 5.

    Agree - these seasons are much better and more interesting than the wall-to-wall composerthons. Am particularly enjoying the Piano A to Z.

  • Comment number 6.

    If you have not determined the final selections for your piano tales, you might look at Boris Vian's 'pianocktail' a piano which creates cocktails to match the mood of the piece played, whose soft pedal delivers ice and whose sustain pedal delivers an egg for egg flips (over use risks bits of omelette floating in the eggnog) and which requires an F sharp cadenza to produce a squirt of soda....

  • Comment number 7.

    Some report that the choicest cut of Piano can contemporaneously compose and play music without need for the grind of a cylinder or a whoever.
    These briefings with nature as a swooning muse the music is always in perfect and intimate consonance with the parasols or brollies of the day-and even where in rapt forgetfulness there is the lifting of paint or lascivious cloying at her uncovered ankles.

  • Comment number 8.

    I am a retired pianoforte technicial (through ill health and disability) but I edited Piano Tuners Quarterly for eleven years and looked after pianos in Wndsor Castle, Eton College and a numbe of prestigious venues in and around London. Now in my leisure I have time to speculate on my favourite topic - is there a fourth Cristofori somewhere waiting to be discovered and made public. Like my friend Stewart Pollens who looks after the Metropolitan Museum of Art Cristofori in New York, I have often sought a trail and now I have written a novel suggesting how someone might unearth a hidden Cristofori. This storyk The Fourth Cristofori, is currently with Johnson & Alcock for consideration (September 2012) and I have gone as far as writing a sequel. To amuse myself I have alwso written a fictional history of the unusual little piano in Cromer's Museum, itself a mystery. I love mysteries and I am currently trying to find out if I can get any more on Americus Backers, a piano maker almost as private and secretive as Cristofori himself. YOu can read all there is to know about AB in my Wikipedia entry.


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