UAFS to Hold Man vs. Machine Piano Duel March 1

Dr. Stephen Husarik, professor of humanities and music history at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, will duel with recordings of reproducing pianos in his lecture-performance “Capturing Art with Machines: Piano Players vs. Player Pianos.” The event will take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday  March 1, at the Breedlove Auditorium, located at 5120 Grand Ave.


The performance, which is free and open to the public, pits Husarik and others against a mechanically driven piano, a device that was popular at the end of the 19th century when engineers attempted to capture the sounds of concert pianists and reproduce them on an automated instrument. 


Using a variety of electrically and mechanically driven systems, reproducing pianos reached a new level of accuracy and refinement in their ability to play back performances to the point where people even believed these recordings favorably matched the quality of a live performance.


Husarik will compare his own live piano performances with recorded performances on reproducing pianos in this lecture-performance to show what was preserved and what was lost in the process of digitalizing and mechanizing music from real life into piano roll recordings.


In addition to playing recordings by celebrated pianists such as Scott Joplin, Josef Hofmann and Sergei Rachmaninoff, Husarik will present and explain his first-ever transcription from a piano roll of the celebrated “Carmen Variations” by Vladimir Horowitz. Child prodigy Ashley Fripp will perform the work in a BBC broadcast. This one-hour performance-lecture ends with a performance of radical new music by Arkansas piano roll composer Conlon Nancarrow.


For more information contact Husarik at 479-788-7555 or 

John Post
Date Posted: 
Friday, January 18, 2019
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