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Building an Effective Piano Technique while Avoiding Injury: A Comparison of the Exercises in Alfred Cortot's "Rational Principles of Pianoforte Technique" and Carl Tausig's "Daily Studies for the Pianoforte"

Description: It is the teacher's responsibility to guide students in building an effective and injury-free piano technique. Improper technique, poor training and bad posture at the instrument all may cause problems such as lack of muscle control, weakness, or tension in the hands. Many teachers are interested in finding information about specific exercises dealing with finger strengthening, stretching, and warm-up strategies, as well as guidelines for safe practicing. It is therefore important for both teachers and students to understand how to build a technique from the earliest years of instruction. Carl Tausig (1841-1871) and Alfred Cortot (1877-1962) both contributed to the development of piano technique by writing books that include a significant number of exercises and excerpts. Their books incorporate detailed instructions on how to play each exercise effectively and without fatigue. Subsequently, Heinrich Ehrlich (1822-1899) collected and systematically arranged Tausig's notes, complementing them with detailed information on how to play Tausig's exercises without causing injury. This dissertation compares and contrasts the exercises found in Alfred Cortot's book, Rational Principles of Pianoforte Technique, and Carl Tausig's book, Daily Studies for the Pianoforte. The latter is based on the practical guidebook, How to Practise on the Piano: Reflections and Suggestions, written by Heinrich Ehrlich. Included in this study are references to the performing arts medical literature dealing with pianists' injuries. By comparing two different historical piano methods and considering their effectiveness in light of modern medical performance research, this dissertation aims to help teachers to determine which methods might be better for students to build a solid piano technique without injuring themselves.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Woo, Lae Hyung
Partner: UNT Libraries

A Performer's Guide to the First Two Movements of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's Grand Sonata in G Major, Opus 37

Description: The Grand Sonata in G Major, Op.37, composed by Tchaikovsky, is a powerful large-scale composition and a piece of a symphonic scope. However, the sonata did not receive a desired acclaim in the modern repertoire partially due to an obvious lack of performance instructions in the existing editions, which makes the sonata challenging to perform. Thus, in order to reduce the technical challenges and to encourage more frequent performances of the sonata, this dissertation offers a performer's guide that addresses essential elements of pedal indications, phrasing and detailed dynamics, as well as suggestions on voice balancing, agogics, fingering, and hand redistribution. The guide consists of musical examples that are focused on the most challenging sections of the sonata, and is organized in the subsections according to a technique type proposed to facilitate a performance of the sonata. In addition to the examples on application of individual techniques presented in the main body of the dissertation, alternative and more elaborate versions of the suggestions are proposed in the appendices. The dissertation also provides a history of the sonata, and discusses its concept and symphonic principles. Additionally, the work highlights Tchaikovsky's piano style and describes his views on the art of piano performance. A special attention is also given to two musical references repeatedly embedded into the sonata: the bell-like sonorities and Dies irae melody.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Dorozhkina, Elena V.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Aphorismen, Capriccio, and Heptameron for Piano Solo By Jürg Baur: a Performer's Guide

Description: The purpose of this dissertation is to give instruction regarding the performance of three important piano works by Jürg Baur (1918-2010). Aphorismen, Capriccio, and Heptameron stand out as his most significant piano works both because of their length and because of their pianistic complexity. Since Baur had a successful career as both teacher and composer during his lifetime, his acclaimed works received many honors in Germany. His works can be performed by intermediate to advanced students. Intermediate students can easily offer simpler pieces like Aphorismen in competitions, while pieces like Capriccio and Heptameron better are suited to a more advanced level. Although some of his compositions are difficult to perform compared with other modern German works, Baur's music is more accessible. In the article, "Auf der Spuren der alten Zeit" Baur is quoted to state that Paul Hindemith and Bela Bartok's music influenced his own compositional ideas. However, although Baur is a modern composer, he didn't write in a totally atonal style, but rather attempted to broaden tonality. While Heptameron is atonal, Aphorismen and Capriccio give the impression of tonality, thus they are more accessible to the audience. I was fortunate enough to study Aphorismen with Baur as well as receiving advice for performance of Capriccio and some movements of Heptameron. Therefore, I gained a primary source of instruction, particularly in regards to pedal markings, rhythmic indications, voice balancing, finger suggestions, articulation markings, and tone of musical expression. In this dissertation, I include my own instructions (accepted by the composer) along with the composer's intentions.
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Date: December 2012
Creator: Park, Esther
Partner: UNT Libraries

Baroque Elements In The Piano Sonata, Opus 9 By Paul Creston

Description: Paul Creston (1906-1985) was one of the most significant American composers from the middle of the twentieth century. Though Creston maintained elements of the nineteenth-century Romantic tradition and was categorized as a “Neo-Romantic” or “20th-century traditionalist,” many of Creston’s compositions contain elements of Baroque music. His Piano Sonata, Opus 9 provides significant examples of Baroque elements, while already foreshadowing his mature style. The purpose of this study is to explore Baroque elements in the compositional language of Paul Creston’s Piano Sonata, Opus 9. All four movements of the Piano Sonata will be examined in regards to its stylistic features associated with Baroque practices. These features mainly consist of rhythm, texture, imitative writing, and repeated phrase structure. Each category of the study will include comparisons of Domenico Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas with Creston’s sonata. Through an examination of the Piano Sonata and its Baroque elements, this study hopes to inspire renewed interest in the work among musicians and to help the performer give a more stylistically coherent, and accurate, performance.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Watanabe, Chie
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Chopin Etudes: a Study Guide for Teaching and Learning Opus 10 and Opus 25

Description: The etudes of Chopin are masterworks of the piano literature and are designed to go beyond mere technical exercises; moreover, each etude represents not only a technical study but also has a distinct musical character. Alarmingly, the current trend seems to be to assign the Chopin etudes at an increasingly young age to students who are not yet equipped either technically or musically to handle them. As Chopin’s pupil, Carl Mikuli, commented in the preface to his Chopin edition, the etudes were meant for “more advanced students.” If Chopin had intended his etudes for students at an intermediate level, he would have assigned them to most of his students; however, only a limited number of students had his permission to work on their master’s etudes. As a teacher, I have always felt the need to devise a systematic teaching plan to guide students to handle the challenges of these pieces both physically and musically. This study examines the repertoire which might help prepare a student to learn the etudes without overstraining his/her muscular and mental ability. Rooted in Chopin’s teaching and his recommendation of the pieces to learn before tackling the etudes themselves, this pedagogical study guide intends to help students and teachers to work progressively towards the study of these works. While pinpointing some exercises and simple pieces to assign to a student in preparation for studying the individual etudes, helpful works of later composers are also liberally incorporated, as well as some suggestions for practicing the etudes themselves. Finally, I shall provide my own “re-ordering” of the etudes, with a progressive degree of difficulty, as an additional aid to a young pianist who may eventually want to learn the entire opus 10 and opus 25.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Kim, Min Joung
Partner: UNT Libraries

Go-hyang (Ancestral Home) By David Burge: a Performer’s Guide to Integrating Korean Musical and Cultural Aspects

Description: David Burge (b. 1930) composed the work Go-Hyang (1994) inspired by his impressions of Korea. the purpose of this study is to provide a performance guide particularly for the benefit of non- Korean pianists. Each of the six pieces of Go-Hyang contains Korean musical and/or cultural references. This document details these aspects, obviously stated or implied through the work. Investigation into distinct characteristics and Korean elements of each of the six movements will involve sources from multiple fields. Interviews with both the composer and the pianist Young-Hae Han for whom the work was written answer many questions about performance issues. Once the Korean reference is examined, it will be related to performance consideration of each movement, in order. the result of this examination will provide the performer not only with beneficial information to facilitate the performance but also with some cultural background to enrich the interpretation of the work.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Lee, Soomin
Partner: UNT Libraries

Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Transcriptions of Beethoven´s Symphony No 2, Op 36: a Comparison of the Solo Piano and the Piano Quartet Versions

Description: Johann Nepomuk Hummel was a noted Austrian composer and piano virtuoso who not only wrote substantially for the instrument, but also transcribed a series of important orchestral pieces. Among them are two transcriptions of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 36- the first a version for piano solo and the second a work for piano quartet, with flute substituting for the traditional viola part. This study will examine Hummel’s treatment of the symphony in both transcriptions, looking at a variety of pianistic devices in the solo piano version and his particular instrumentation choices in the quartet version. Each of these transcriptions can serve a particular purpose for performers. The solo piano version is an obvious virtuoso vehicle, whereas the quartet version can be a refreshing program alternative in a piano quartet concert.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Kim, Aram
Partner: UNT Libraries

Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Idea of the “Modern”: Developing Variation in the Piano Concerto in C Sharp, Opus 17

Description: This study examines the Piano Concerto in C sharp, Op.17 (1923), by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), in light of developing variation, techniques that transform motivic ideas and create musical continuity in this work. The troublesome reception history of Korngold’s piano concerto derives from its complex musical features, which have created difficulties in understanding and evaluating this piece. Consequently, critics and scholars often label the highly sophisticated yet tonal musical language in this piece a residue of Romanticism from the nineteenth century. In this document, in contrast, examination of motivic development and connections in Korngold’s piano concerto reveals thematic and structural coherence in light of Korngold’s idea of modernity. This study provides a historical and technical survey of developing variation and discusses Korngold’s implementation of these techniques in his early compositions and the piano concerto. By doing so, this study recognizes the progressive aspect in Korngold’s music.
Date: May 2014
Creator: Huang, Shu-Yuan
Partner: UNT Libraries

The First Movement of Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor by Julius Reubke: a Comparison of Three Editions From the Performer’s Point of View

Description: The objective of this dissertation is to review the discrepancies between the first edition, Stradal’s edition and Marzocchi’s edition of Reubke’s piano sonata, providing assistance for performers by clarifying inconsistencies between the three editions. Information in reference to major aspects such as fingerings, pedaling, phrasing, tempo markings is presented. Examples of discrepancies found throughout the first movement are discussed in Chapter 3. Detailed assessment of these discrepancies, accompanied by the author’s comments are listed in the comprehensive comparison table in Appendix A. Additionally, directions are given in cases of presumptive errors, and discrepancies are addressed with possible variant solutions. In conclusion, the relative merit of the three editions is assessed in Chapter 4.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Pátkai, Imre
Partner: UNT Libraries

Lowell Liebermann's Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 12: An Historical and Analytical Study

Description: Lowell Liebermann, born in New York City in 1961, is one of America's most distinguished living composers. In addition, he often conducts and performs as pianist in his own works. His musical language is unique and unmistakably rooted in the grand tradition of Western music; however, his style combines old and new, simple and complex, emotional and intellectual aspects. It combines tuneful, catchy melodies with a rich harmonic language, all framed by a strong formal design. This study begins with presenting primary information on this concerto excerpted from an interview with Lowell Liebermann. This interview served as a reference for subsequent sections, and a transcript of the interview is appended to the end of this study. In the third chapter, the musical language of the composer is discussed. Chapters four and five constitute the main body of this dissertation. The goal of these two chapters is to understand the basic three-pitch motive of the work, to demonstrate how it operates at various levels, and to see how the raw material corresponds at a larger structure level. It is the author's hope that this study will guide performers to better understand Liebermann's Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra, Opus 12.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Chang, Hsiao-Ling
Partner: UNT Libraries

An Instructional Approach to Introducing Twentieth-century Piano Music to Piano Students From Beginning to Advanced Levels: a Graded Repertoire for Mastering the Challenges Posed by Logan Skelton’s Civil War Variations

Description: Beginning and intermediate piano students typically study the repertoire of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This pedagogical approach leaves them underprepared to approach compositions written since the latter part of the twentieth-century which are significantly different in terms of harmony, rhythm, meter, and compositional procedure. Therefore, a step-by-step method is necessary to prepare a student for the challenges of learning twentieth and twenty-first century piano music. Civil War Variations (1988), by Logan Skelton, is an excellent example of a piece that presents a number of challenges characteristically found in late twentieth-century piano music. The twenty-five variations that comprise the work incorporate a series of twentieth-century musical techniques, namely complex rhythms, extreme dissonance, frequent metric changes, dissonant counterpoint, the inclusion of blues scales and rhythms, and new notations. The purpose of this study is to identify the technical, musical, structural and notational challenges posed by a work such as Logan Skelton’s Civil War Variations; examination of this piece will lead to suggestions regarding repertoire that a teacher may assign to beginning, intermediate, and advanced students in order to prepare them logically and in a step-by-step fashion to cope with and meet the challenges posed by this and other compositions having similar characteristics.
Date: December 2013
Creator: Kim, Dajeong
Partner: UNT Libraries

Manuel M. Ponce: A critical study of his Concierto Romántico for piano and orchestra.

Description: The Concierto Romántico for Piano and Orchestra is one of Manuel M. Ponce's outstanding compositional accomplishments from his Romantic period, reflecting both the state of Mexican music at the turn of the 20th century, and his early nationalist tendencies. However, it remains the only concerto in Ponce's output in need of a more comprehensive analysis. This treatise focuses on a global investigative that examines descriptive and analytic references to the work, as well as a comparison and clarification of the existing score sources. An analytical and stylistic musical study using conventional theoretical techniques leads to a musicological interpretation of the work's extra-musical meaning, based on close assessments of Ponce's compositional practice and social principles.
Date: August 2007
Creator: Vázquez, Carlos Balam
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Significance of Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Sonata Op.12

Description: The aspiration of this dissertation is to bring forth the significance of Shostakovich's Piano Sonata Op.12. This sonata is a hybrid of the German musical tradition, Russian Modernism, and Liszt's thematic transformation technique. It demonstrates Shostakovich's highly intellectual compositional skills influenced by the education that he received at St. Petersburg Conservatory as well as the exposure to modern music in the 1920s. This dissertation discusses composition techniques, such as the harmonic piers adapted from Alexander Scriabin, neighboring-tone technique, which involves the application of semitone cell throughout the piece, as well as the technique of thematic transformation borrowed from Liszt. These all come together by Shostakovich's design in the most controversial sonata form. The Piano Sonata Op.12 also sheds light on Shostakovich's early compositional style and proves its contribution to the evolution of sonata genre in the twentieth-century.
Date: May 2007
Creator: Kan, Ling-Yu
Partner: UNT Libraries

Mikrokosmos and 32 Piano Games: Introducing Contemporary Musical Language and Developing Piano Technique for the Beginning Student

Description: As new musical styles have emerged in the twentieth century with characteristic sounds, chords, forms, meters, and intervals, teachers need to broaden and re-define the way they introduce musical concepts to beginning piano students. The purpose of this study is to offer different instructional possibilities aside from conventional methods of teaching beginning pianists. This is accomplished through a comparison of the two different approaches of the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók and the American composer Ross Lee Finney. Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, a graded set of 153 pieces, and Finney's 32 Piano Games are examined through this paper.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Song, Hyun-Joo
Partner: UNT Libraries