No thoughtful observer of America's love affair with the piano and piano music would ever suggest that, on the Western side of the Atlantic, the splendid accomplishments of European composers and performers have not been generously embraced. The treasury of European keyboard music, to the present day, represents the lion's share of the repertory studied, taught, publicly presented, and recorded in this country. Such widespread appreciation, nonetheless, has brought relative obscurity to those composers of piano music who cultivated their art as citizens or residents of the United States. Professor Keith Ward addresses this state of affairs and with his work invites pianists - from beginners to concert artists as well as teachers - to reconsider the virtues of the often dismissed body of American keyboard music dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, especially in light of its availability in recently published collections.
The assistance he offers takes the following forms: a documented explanation of the historical forces that conditioned this development; an analytical inventory of the contents of collections published primarily since the American Bicentennial; an annotation for each collection, including commentary on editorial practices; an assessment of the technical difficulty of each piece; an identification of American repertoire of comparable merit to compositions making up the teaching and performing canons; a master list of relevant composers; and a directory of recent publishers of American piano music. There is no apology in his advocacy of American-made music just as there is no reason to question the significance of revered European masters. Instead, he argues eloquently for making a place for American piano music again in the American parlor and on the American concert stage, where it once flourished.