You may be asking, what is a fortepiano? Believe it or not, we did not always have the grand 88-key instrument that we play today. The piano has a long evolving history.  The fortepiano is one of the earliest forms of our modern piano and first appeared in the early 1700s. It was the first keyboard instrument that could be played both softly and loudly (instead of one uniform sound) and it was named after this particular characteristic. Yes, fortepiano actually translates from Italian as loud-soft.

This fall you have the opportunity to actually see and hear a replica of one of these early instruments – for free! On Monday, Sept. 28, at 6PM, Janice Wenger will perform on the fortepiano at the University of Oklahoma (Pitman Recital Hall in Catlett Music Center).  The following is an excerpt from OU’s press release:

The fortepiano used for the concert is an exact reproduction of a Viennese instrument, built by Anton Walter in about 1802. Paul McNulty, an American working in the Czech Republic, created this particular fortepiano in 2006.

The program for the concert includes: “Fantasia (Capriccio) in C Major, Hob. XVII:4”, “Sonata in C-sharp Minor, Hob. XVI:36” by Franz Joseph Haydn; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Nine Variations on a Minuet of Duport, K. 573”; and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Sonata quasi una Fantasia, Op. 27 No. 2.”

Wenger has appeared as recitalist on numerous university campuses and as professional accompanist throughout the United States.  She has served frequently as official accompanist to both regional and national finals of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) student competitions and has been lecturer or adjudicator for the American Liszt Society, the College Music Society, the National Federation of Music Clubs, the St. Louis Piano Teachers Roundtable, and MTNA and many of its state affiliates.

Wenger has coached opera at the Eastman School of Music, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Kansas City Starlight Theater Summer Apprentice Program, as well as for many productions at the University of Missouri. Recently, she performed and taught during a residency at the Janacek Academy of Music in Brno, Czech Republic, where she also visited the workshop of Paul McNulty. McNulty built the MU historic fortepiano, which Wenger now utilizes in performance and on tour in the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

Currently a professor of Music at the University of Missouri-Columbia, Wenger teaches studio piano, collaborative piano, and piano literature, and coordinates the keyboard department.