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Title: The changing style of playing Rachmaninoff's piano music
Author: Chiao, Yuanpu
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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Rachmaninoff was not only a fine composer but also an extraordinary pianist. Due to his virtuosity, he established a powerful interpretative style for his music that clearly influenced his contemporaries. However, the way people have performed his piano music has changed over the years. In this thesis, I show how the recorded interpretations of some important figures have become 'authoritative renditions' for other pianists to follow and argue that these have caused performance fashions to change in specific areas and periods. From time to time, pianists have also reacted against existing norms. In the last two decades, fashions seem to have altered again: many pianists are now starting to return to an 'authentic' Rachmaninoff style in their performances. Since a performance takes place in a historical and cultural context, it is necessary to trace the context behind the sound. The thesis starts by discussing the meaning of performing schools (Chapter One), and the characteristics of the early Russian Piano School to which Rachmaninoff belonged (Chapter Two). Chapter Three focuses on Rachmaninoff’s own performance style. Examining the characteristics of his playing, I use the features of the early Russian Piano School to examine the extent to which Rachmaninoff’s performances were characteristic of the Russian tradition. Chapter Four discusses how pianists have played Rachmaninoff’s solo pieces over time, and Chapter Five how pianists have developed their editorial approaches and structural ideas when playing the composer’s Piano Concertos Nos. 2 and 3. While Chapter Four underlines the changing fashions across generations, the two case studies in Chapter Five suggest that recordings may have played a more significant role in this change than the score. In Chapter Six, I go back to the question of being ‘authentic’ and summarise different perspectives from my interviews with pianists, to see how they view these issues. I conclude the thesis with suggestions for further study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available