Learning From the Autograph: a New Critical Approach to Performing Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor

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The Sonata in B minor occupies a hallowed position in Liszt’s oeuvre, according to scholarly assessment. Despite the plethora of literature on this consummate work, the vast majority of writings on the sonata have focused almost exclusively on formal innovation, thematic transformation, and programmatic speculation, and there is a dearth of interpretative analysis of the sonata based on its fascinating autograph manuscript, even though it has been publicly accessible and widely available in facsimile for some four decades now. In view of the fact that the autograph manuscript has never been examined for the express purpose of improving performance of ... continued below

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Arjona, Alfredo August 2015.

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  • Arjona, Alfredo

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The Sonata in B minor occupies a hallowed position in Liszt’s oeuvre, according to scholarly assessment. Despite the plethora of literature on this consummate work, the vast majority of writings on the sonata have focused almost exclusively on formal innovation, thematic transformation, and programmatic speculation, and there is a dearth of interpretative analysis of the sonata based on its fascinating autograph manuscript, even though it has been publicly accessible and widely available in facsimile for some four decades now. In view of the fact that the autograph manuscript has never been examined for the express purpose of improving performance of the sonata, this dissertation proposes to approach this problem with the direct examination of the autograph and its numerous additions and deletions, and the analysis of the many interpretive implications stemming from the surprising insights offered by the autograph itself, which is on deposit at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York City. The goal of the dissertation is to make readily accessible a comprehensive performance-oriented study of this summit of pianism, offering solutions to the many discrepancies among its various published editions, from the first Breitkopf & Härtel in 1854 to the most recent Peters Urtext in 2011, and including photographic reproductions of the unpublished material obscured behind and beneath the collettes (idiosyncratic terminology for additional pieces of paper pasted over the manuscript) together with the author’s engraved transcriptions thereof. In sum, the dissertation provides guidance and solutions for the various forms of virtuosic and interpretive problems that earn the sonata its reputation for being one of the most difficult works in the repertoire to understand and perform.

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Doctoral Recital: 2005-11-21 - Alfredo Arjona, piano (Sound)

Doctoral Recital: 2005-11-21 - Alfredo Arjona, piano

Recital presented at the UNT College of Music Concert Hall in partial fulfillment of the Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree.

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  • August 2015

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • March 4, 2016, 4:14 p.m.

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  • Nov. 17, 2017, 8:53 a.m.

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Arjona, Alfredo. Learning From the Autograph: a New Critical Approach to Performing Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor, dissertation, August 2015; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc804866/: accessed July 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .