Italian pianist tunes to lower frequency at Beijing concert

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Apart from his solo piano performances, Sebastiano Brusco (left) also accompanies Italian songs performed by Chinese tenor Zhang Mingyu at a recent show in Beijing. [PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY]

A piano recital usually involves a quiet venue, a musical instrument placed in the center of the stage and a player who moves the audience with perfect music.

But the audience was in for a surprise at the concert hall of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing in April, when they saw two grand pianos placed on the stage. Italian pianist Sebastiano Brusco demonstrated how science can be used to complement art in his performances at the university over two days.

The two pianos are tuned to different frequencies, one using the modern A440 pitch standard with a frequency of 440 hertz and the other with the classical 432-hertz tuning, a renowned advocate of which was 19th-century Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi. The Beijing concert was also a rare opportunity for the Chinese audience to attend a live concert with a piano tuned at 432 hertz.

Prior to the last century, different frequencies were adopted in tuning musical instruments.

In 1939 and 1955, respectively, the British Standards Institute and the International Organization for Standardization adopted A440 as the global standard.

Brusco played the works of three classical masters, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert and Frederic Chopin, and accompanied Italian songs performed by Chinese tenor Zhang Mingyu.

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