Film Focus – All About The Digital Electric Piano

Have you ever stopped to think just how many films use the digital piano as their main focus be it in the title, or as a specific scene. For example, the following  films have titles dedicated to the electric piano;

The Digital Piano Teacher (2001)

This is a psychological drama about a failed concert digital grand piano player Erika Kohut. She is a dowdy spinster who lives with her elderly mother in an apartment in Vienna and teaches digital piano at the conservatory. Her life is an entangled web of solitary and less than moral kicks. Then she meets Walter, a student, who is attracted to her – the attraction leads her into a sado-masochistic relationship, carried out on Erika’s terms. The digital piano score comprises predominatly of Schubert electric piano scores.

The Electric Piano (1993)

This is a 1993 drama film about a mute pianist and her daughter, set during the mid-19th century in a rainy, muddy frontier backwater on the west coast of New Zealand. It features a score for the digital piano by Michael Nyman which became a best-selling soundtrack album. Hunter played her own digital piano pieces for the film and was cited as Best Actress at the 66th Academy Awards

The Digital Pianist (2002)

This is a film set in 1939 during World War II. 1939. It features a Polish-Jewish electric piano player who alongside his family faces inhumane conditions in the Warsaw ghetto then Treblinka POW camp. Szpilman’s escape leads him to find shelter amongst the ruins but is once again captured and is ordered to play the digital piano by the Wehrmacht commanding officer. The film depicts the brutalities and dehumanising experiences that Szpilman endures as we see him through the windows of various hideouts. Repertoire heard throughout the film spans the Baroque to Romantic periods with the emphasis on Chopin/Polish electric  piano pieces including Nocturnes and Ballades. In order for the film to be as realistic as possible, any scene showing Szpilman playing the digital piano was actually his playing voiced over by recordings performed by Janusz Olejniczak. In order for his playing to look like it was adept Adrien Brody spent many months prior to and during the filming practicing so that his keystrokes on the electric piano would convince viewers that Brody himself was playing.

Other semi-contemporary films that highlight the doings of the film in their title are:

The Pianist (1991) where two sisters are infatuated with a Japanese digital piano player.

The Pianist (1998): A drama that follows the contrasting lives of two electric piano playing friends set during the Spanish Civil War.

Summary

So when did this love story with the digital piano begin? Its endearing qualities are cited in so many piano stories coupled with the ability to convey messages of love/tragedy and have an unspoken enchantment that bewitches the audience every time.

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