Instruments | Orchestral Piano | Modern Era | Classical
The twentieth century saw the piano return to the orchestra: notable works including the orchestral piano are Kodály’s Háry János (1926), Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony and Orff’s Carmina Burana (1937). Modern composers realized that, as it creates sound with hammers that strike strings, the piano is technically a member of the percussion family. Indeed, in Grainger’s The Warriors (1916) the pianist has to lean inside and strike the strings directly with marimba mallets (the piece boasts three grand pianos and one upright, part of an enormous percussion department). Similarly, in solo piano repertory, Cowell’s Aeolian Harp (1923) requires the piano strings to be strummed or plucked. The percussive possibilities of the piano are also seen to advantage in George Antheil’s music of the 1920s and later in Boulez’s conventionally played but nevertheless ‘Hammer-klavier’ piece, the Second Piano Sonata (1948).
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