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Title: Contemporary Russian piano school : pedagogy and performance
Author: Wan, Blanc Chun Pong
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 8765
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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This research identifies primarily the characteristics of modern Russian pianism. In the process of exploring performance practice, this study throws light on the inter-locking relationship between pedagogy and performance. Further, it will take the opportunity to expand on the ‘Russian Piano School’ ideology and to examine how this ideology has affected the interpretation of Russian pianists. This thesis uses written documentary sources, observations, interviews as well as sound recordings to form its conclusions. Chapter one takes the opportunity to examine the current scholarship and aims to demonstrate the relative depth of this thesis. The second chapter focuses on the contemporary idea of the ‘Russian Piano School’ and sets the scope of the discussion for this research. The term Russian School or Tradition – occurs throughout the last century and has been widely used in association with a particular style of performance. This chapter, however, disputes the implication of the term and its connection with performance style, and provides another perspective to current scholarship. Chapter three embarks on further investigation of Russian piano pedagogy at present, and expands the subject-matter with reference to three distinctive principles of the Russian School of playing: the idea of a long melodic line, a cantabile singing tone and a solid technical foundation. This section reveals some particularly striking observations. It should be of interest to note that globalisation has already made a significate impact on the Russian pedagogical approach. The fourth, fifth and sixth chapters present the three characteristics of Russian pianism separately. Chapter four places the spotlight on the technical foundation. In contrast to other schools, Russian pianists pay heavy attention to technique at an early age. This chapter aims to deconstruct their current curriculum for technical exams, and analyses a number of études and technical excises. It should be of interest to note that this section considers the tutor books used throughout the student period, leading to the solid technical foundation with which generations of Russian pianists seem to have been equipped. Chapter five looks closely at the long melodic line in the performance of Russian pianists and explores the effectiveness of long lines in Romantic music. It does, however, suggest this particular feature has been ‘embedded’ into their playing unconsciously, which has influenced some of their performance decisions. The sixth chapter, as its title suggests, focuses on the cantabile sound quality in Russian performances – another noticeable feature of the Russian musical aesthetics. The ways in which Russian pianists construct their tonal layers at different levels can be studied in depth and can be examined from a number of different angles. It proves helpful to use Tchaikovsky’s B flat minor Piano Concerto, Op. 23, and Mozart’s Piano Sonata in F major KV 332, as case studies to furnish examples. Finally, a concluding chapter draws together the strands of the preceding discussion. In sum, the thesis reconsiders the modern ‘Russian Piano School’ in relation to the globalisation of teaching and practice, and concludes with suggestions for further study.
Supervisor: Stokes, Martin ; Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available