Dr. Kenneth Drake
Dr. Jun-Hee Han
The Fortepiano as Teacher
A piano of the past, or a copy of one, is neither “old” nor a simulation of old. Like the music we play on it, such a piano is as new and young as when the ink was drying on the composer’s manuscript. With all our concern for “authentic” performance, we forget that interpretation is authentic when the pianist submits musical gifts, intelligence, an understanding nature, and physical skill to the score in order to be played by the music.
The fortepiano that will be brought to the meeting of the Piano Teachers Round Table cannot demonstrate how such a piano sounded to Mozart. The sound of the modern piano forever obstructs such an experience. However, the fortepiano can teach touch as it relates to expressiveness in a shallower and lighter key dip, articulation as it relates to the speaking quality of the fortepiano’s sound, and precise realization of dynamics within a lower range of sonority. What one learns can then be taken to renew imagination for playing Classic repertoire on the modern piano. The members are encouraged to bring a piece from that period that they can try on this piano.
Dr. Drake is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Music of the University of Illinois, having taught previously at Evansville College in Indiana and Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Dr. Drake was an early exponent of playing a repertoire of the classic period on instruments of that period. For 40 years he has promoted the use of period pianos for the music of the classic era, making him one of the earliest exponents of the fortepiano. Dr. Drake’s website, classicandromanticpianos.org, provides pictures and descriptions of four generations of English Broadwood pianos, including an 1816 grand that is the same model as the piano given to Beethoven by the Broadwood company in 1818.
Dr. Han is a pianist and conductor. A native-born Korean and now an American citizen, Dr. Han completed his undergraduate study at the Chicago Conservatory of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he studied with Ludmila Lazar, and his graduate study with scholarship support from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, earning a performance diploma and studying with Edmund Battersby. He also coaches conducting with Paul Vermel.
Drake and Han book, “Thoughts for the Pilgrimage” was published in 2016 by OMF Music Resources. For more information visit his website classicandromanticpianos.org