Today, the pianola is only cherished by a few enthusiasts and collectors but used to be widespread in the first decades of the 20th century. Both light and serious music was put on roll as famous pianists recorded their interpretations of the most popular music of their time. Composers such as Stravinsky and Nancarrow wrote works specifically for this instrument. This artistic research project highlights various aspects of the pianola and wants to revitalize this historical phenomenon with new compositions.
A preparatory music-historical and historical-artistic period provides a brief overview of the cultural-historical aspects of the pianola in Belgium (construction, sales, distribution, brands, typology, repertoire, etc.), with a focus on Antwerp. For the artistic aspect, the collection of piano rolls of the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp and Museum Vleeshuis will be studied and the performance practice of the pianists will be analyzed.
The conclusions regarding the historical performance practice are explored and implemented by piano teachers and students of the conservatory. In addition, new and experimental works for pianola (driven by MIDI) will be composed and performed. To this end, there will be cooperated with the composition department of the conservatory and with the international production platform ChampdAction, under the artistic direction of composer Serge Verstockt. All this will lead to new insights according to interpretation, presentation moments, a festival, new compositions and a CD.