A Survey of Russian Music for Piano: Absolute Music and Program Music from Mussorgsky to Prokofiev
Kim, Mun Kyung
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In opposition to the European dominated classical music, several Russian composers including a group of five composers called "Mighty Five" began to spread the spirit of nationalism by applying their nationalistic folk idioms to their music Many accomplished composers and pianists, referred to as the "Russian Piano School," appeared and developed their own styles. Russian piano music started to gain international attention and soon after, it thrived not only in Russia but also in Western Europe. In the twentieth century, Russian composers significantly contributed to the Western piano music despite the unsettling effect of the Soviet revolution• Similar to the avant-garde movement around 1910, the modernist movement introduced many experimental works into the musical repertoire and also led Russian piano music to flourish. This dissertation contains a research on nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian piano music, specifically from Mussorgsky, whom I regard as the most original composer for the piano repertoire of the Russian Five, to Prokofiev, who represents twentieth century Russian modem music . Through my three dissertation recitals, I presented works of celebrated Russian composers that are not only representative but also staples of the pianist's repertoire. Although the recitals presented various genres and styles between 1874 and 1942, they shared a source of inspiration and nationalistic characters that include profound nostalgic melodies, folk materials, and rich harmonic language. In addition, the dissertation shows stylistic and technical influences of extra musical ideas, such as image, story and theater work. It was a fascinating and remarkable experience to survey Russian composers who in addition to their own unique idioms combined nationalism with compositional trends like unique orchestral color, use of exotic harmonies and a variety of dynamic. The pieces were presented in three recitals on November 2, 2011, September 28, 2012, and April1, 2013. Compact disc recordings of these recitals are available in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.