An Exploration of Chicago’s Ethnic Player Piano Rolls A presentation by the Museum's Scholar in Residence - Prof. Darius Kučinskas

Prof. Darius Kučinskas
Prof. Darius Kučinskas

Event Description

The Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture is delighted to introduce Professor Darius Kučinskas. Dr. Kučinskas is a professor at Kaunas University of Technology whose research includes musicology and the history of player piano music. After receiving a prestigious Baltic-American Freedom Foundation Grant, he has been a visiting researcher at the Balzekas Museum for the past six months. Dr. Kučinskas will be presenting and demonstrating his research the evening of September 14th.

Dr. Kučinskas will chronicle his discovery, research, and documentation of Chicago‘s rich yet obscure collections of ethnic piano rolls, exploring both the numerous unique Lithuanian-American recordings he unearthed and the many cross-cultural connections he has made throughout his endeavors. Player piano music is a unique phenomenon of a relatively short period of time, between the late 19th and mid-20th century, that happens to coincide with massive immigration to Chicago and the establishment of many cultural communities in our city. The songs recorded on piano rolls reveal a palpable link to this pivotal moment in time and serve as audible testament to the process of acculturation. Today, relatively few player piano rolls remain intact and functional, and much of player piano music has been lost to the degradations of time. Thus, ethnic player piano rolls are unique artifacts representing a critical moment in musical and immigrant history as well as an opportunity for cross cultural dialog. Dr. Kučinskas will describe, display, and play a few rare piano rolls during the event. The Balzekas Museum is proud to debut their fully functional player piano, a recent acquisition which is new to the museum’s permanent collection.

CCA Core Members are invited to bring several piano rolls from their own collections which may be played and possibly recorded after the main presentation. Please note: Members must provide their own basic recording equipment. Some smart phone apps may be acceptable for basic recording. The Balzekas Museum will also be providing future access to their own fully functional player piano for those wishing to create recordings, fees to be determined.

The current scholar in residence at the  Balzekas Museum, Prof. Kučinskas is an authority on the player piano. Through his extensive research, he has uncovered rare player piano rolls and other audio recordings in the Museum’s collections. The Museum is pleased to announce that Prof. Kučinskas’s sabbatical has been extended through April, 2019.

Everyone is welcome to come and hear Prof. Kučinskas’s special presentation. His enthusiasm and knowledge for this unique musical genre–popularized in the United States during the turn of the last century–makes for a lively and fascinating presentation.

Program in English

Date / Time / Location