Christina Kobb

piano - fortepiano - lectures

#1: An old, new piano!

#1: A new, old piano!

Do you see the beautiful piano case in this picture? It is my new piano, built in Vienna around 1830. Stunning, isn’t it?

Christina Kobb er pianist og musikkviter med hovedfokus på hammerklaver og historisk oppføringspraksis. Hennes nylige doktoravhandling “Piano Playing in Beethoven’s Vienna – Reconstructing the Technique, Exploring its Practical Application” er den første publikasjonen med fokus på 1800-tallets klaverteknikk. Allerede i 2015 fikk hennes forskning oppmerksomhet i The New York Times og andre internasjonale medier, og i 2017 holdt hun sin debutkonsert i Carnegie Hall til glitrende anmeldelser. For tiden er hun tilsatt som timelærer i musikkhistorie ved Norges musikkhøgskole, og fagansvarlig for musikkteoretiske artikler i Store Norske Leksikon. Christina er gift med den tyske barokkfiolinisten Anton Steck.


Christina Kobb studied piano at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and fortepiano with Liv Glaser, Bart van Oort, Stanley Hoogland and Malcolm Bilson. Her solo debut at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 2017 garnered rave reviews. In 2022, she finished her PhD on Viennese piano technique in the early 19th century – a project which has received international attention. Since 2010, Christina has taught music history and performance practice at the Norwegian Academy of Music and is also active as a lecturer and freelance musician. She is married to the German baroque violinist Anton Steck.

Viennese Piano Technique

As a pianist and period piano expert, I chose a subject for my PhD which lies close to my practice. Nevertheless, when I initially approached musicological research, no one could have convinced me that I were to study piano technique; I wanted to know about its Vortrag (execution)! But then, I took a close look at Viennese keyboard methods of the early 19th century, and it struck me: Prior to any other subject, the authors provide painstakingly detailed explanations on how to sit on a piano chair, how to hold your body and arms, and how to move or not move your hands and fingers. Why is this? And why would it matter for the execution? Is it not enough simply to play an original instrument?

A good decade after this first discovery, my own playing of the fortepiano has changed dramatically. This is because piano posture and basic technique of 1820s Vienna were the exact opposite, in many ways, to any modern piano technique. In this article and in the videos below, I explain and demonstrate this more closely:

In my PhD dissertation Piano Playing in Beethoven’s Vienna. Reconstructing the Technique, Exploring its Musical Application (Oslo, 2022) I give the entire argument, including extensive source discussions. The dissertation is not available online, but you may contact me to buy either a physical book or a pdf version. However, the videos are freely available:

Concerts, lectures, talks and teaching

15 January 2024: Erbdrostenhofkonzert in Münster, Germany. Works for piano and violin by Beethoven, Vorisek and Spohr. With Anton Steck, baroque violin.

21 January 2024: Schlosskonzert Weilburg, Germany. Works for piano and violin by Beethoven, Vorisek and Spohr. With Anton Steck, baroque violin.
Beethovens Hammerflügel – Technik und Interpretation. Ein Vortrag mit Klangbeispielen.

Piano Playing in 1820s Vienna. A lecture with piano demonstrations.

Håndverk til fingerspissene! Klaverspill på Beethovens tid. Et foredrag med ‘live’ pianospill eller evt. videoopptak.


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