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MMD > Archives > January 2014 > 2014.01.19 > 03Prev  Next

CD of 1920's Player Piano Tunes
By Roger Angell

Bill Chapman asked about CDs of player piano tunes, which I take to
mean recordings of players/reproducers actually playing vintage piano
rolls.  What immediately came to mind were some LPs and CDs I have that
meet that criterion.  Then I recalled the numerous YouTube videos of
same, which would be an easy and inexpensive place to start.

Nonesuch 9-79287-2 and 79370-2 are CDs of George Gershwin ("The Piano
Rolls", a.k.a. "Gershwin Plays Gershwin," volumes 1 and 2) playing his
own compositions, some obscure, between 1916 and 1933. The Duo-Art
rolls were converted to MIDI files and played on a concert Disklavier.
The 88-note rolls were played on a 1911 Pianola (which I take to mean a
Vorsetzer style), which in turn operated the Disklavier keyboard.
Those sessions were recorded to diskette in MIDI form, and subsequently
edited to add expression.  Those CDs are probably still available, at
least through Internet resellers of old CDs.

An RCA Victor LP (LSP-2058), "Piano Roll Discoveries," ca. 1959,
includes Gershwin playing "Rhapsody In Blue," as do the CDs above, and
nine other rolls played by Gershwin, Confrey, Waller, Arndt, and
pianists who made QRS rolls.  It's available from eBay and Amazon,
among others.

As for YouTube, just searching on "player piano" (with quotes) returns
over 100,000 matches.  "Reproducing pianos" finds about 6,000, and
"piano rolls" about 17,000.  I expect all the rolls from the CDs and LP
mentioned above are on there somewhere.  Adding a date (e.g., 1920's)
to the search may help the gentleman zero in on the period of interest,
but not necessarily accurately so.  Of course one can also search on
"Ampico," "Duo-Art," and so on.

Roger Angell

(Message sent Sun 19 Jan 2014, 19:23:36 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  1920's, CD, Piano, Player, Tunes

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