Happy (Belated) Piano Day 2018!

Every (non-leap) year, the 88th day of the year falls on March 29th.

The piano has 88 keys on all.

And so, that day was chosen by German pianist and composer Nils Frahm to be Piano Day.

The idea was conceived “to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers, and most important, the listener.”

The point of the yearly event is “to create a platform for piano related projects in order to promote the development of musical dimensions and to continue sharing the centuries-old joy of playing piano.” It doesn’t matter what kind of piano player you are – young, old, beginner, professional, and all genres and styles – Piano Day is intended to be a joyful celebration of the instrument and its music.

We’re a little late for Piano Day 2018, as it occurred last Thursday, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still appreciate some of the piano music that may have been featured. With that in mind, we’re supplying YouTube links so you can get a flavour of 6 of the best piano tracks.

1. Nils Frahm – Says

We’re kicking off the list in fitting fashion with a piece composed by Piano Day founder Nils Frahm. Frahm’s soundscapes are created using a somewhat unconventional fusion of contemporary electronic music and modern classic. This piece is especially great for testing your listening equipment as it’s a great test for frequency range, space and timing, and how well your system knits together electronic and traditional acoustic instruments.

2. Claude Debussy – Clair de lune

There aren’t many pieces that have been interpreted by so many artists. This particular take, by Alexandre Tharaud, takes it to a new level by incorporating acrobatics! “Artists exploring ideas together become like childhood friends,” says the performance’s choreographer and star, Yoann Bourgeois. The video incorporates dancing and lilting movement with the music to create something truly unique.

3. Thelonious Monk – Blue Monk

Jazz composer and performer Thelonious Monk’s unique improvisational styling was truly one of a kind. This track in particular is a master class in organization thanks to the trying in of the saxophone, bass, and drum kits. As the master himself would have said, “It you don’t feel it, it ain’t right.”

4. Sergei Rachmaninov – Concerto No2 in C Minor

Like Debussy’s, you probably know this one. Rachmaninov was a genius of juxtaposition with gushing romantic movements book ended with imposing march-like phrases found throughout Concerto No2 in C Minor.

5. Kiasmos – Looped

A collaborator of Piano Day founder Frahm’s, Olafur Arnald is an Icelandic multi-instrumentalist who creates ambient, minimalist piano tracks. His enchanting music even won him a BAFTA for the show Broadchurch. But his work with electronic artist Janus Rasmussen as Kiasmos creates a truly unique experimental sound. With this tune, each instrument was recorded acoustically first, then treated or looped. This creates a rich, textural detail to entertain the ears.

6. David Bowie – Lady Grinning Soul

The piano on the final track of David Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Performed by Mike Garson, the piano interacts with all the other instruments beautifully, complimenting each, especially Bowie’s own incredible vocal range.

This is, of course, just a small sampling of the amazing piano performances out there. The piano is so ubiquitous in our modern culture that you can find it being performed in literally every genre of music you can image.

We may have missed the 88th day of the year, but every day can be Piano Day if you put your mind to it!