Player pianos that are 100 years old will come to life this Saturday at Stanford University, reproducing historic performances by composers like George Gershwin and Igor Stravinksy. The concert is part of the university's new Player Piano Project.
Player pianos were “capable of reproducing the nuances of touch and timing of a pianist who recorded in real time,” explains Kumaran Arul, a music instructor at Stanford. The pianos play music recorded on perforated rolls.
Arul led the effort to acquire and preserve the more than 7,500 rolls and 10 player pianos from a collector in Australia.
The pianos became very popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and then died out as phonographs improved.