The Music of J.S. Bach and the Art of Transcription - Selected Bach Transcriptions by Pianist-Composers

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2012

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Abstract

This dissertation is a study of transcriptions by various pianist-composers of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The purpose of the study is to explore many different examples of this genre, to re-evaluate their significance in the Classical piano repertoire, and to further validate them as one of the main works to be considered in performance settings. Although it is commonly believed that Mendelssohn "revived" Bach as a composer in the nineteenth century, it was rather the tradition of playing his music in modem concert settings with modem instruments that was rediscovered through the nineteenth century composers. Major composers such as Liszt and Brahms have all contributed to this movement by conducting and/ or transcribing his music. This dissertation, however, focuses specifically on pianist-composers after the Liszt generation who have continued in the tradition of transcribing Bach's music. Works studied include transcriptions by one of the more prominent Bach transcribers, Ferruccio Busoni, as well as other transcriptions by 1) German pianist-composers: Max Reger, Eugen d'Albert; 2) Russian pianist-composers: Samuil Feinberg, Alexander Siloti, Sergei Rachmaninov; 3) American pianist-composers: Kevine Oldham, Olga Samaroff, Angela Hewitt; 4) British pianist-composers: Myra Hess, Walter Rummel; and 4) Polish pianist-composer: Ignaz Friedman. The types of transcriptions recorded can be divided into two categories: transcriptions of instrumental works (such as organ preludes or violin partita) and transcriptions of vocal works (aria or cantata). The validity of these transcriptions can be firmly founded on the fact that Bach himself was an avid transcriber of other composers' works, as well as his own music. Pieces that are included on these recordings have been chosen after hours of listening and researching at The International Piano Archives of Maryland. This dissertation is documented on two compact discs that were recorded from 2009 to 2012 in Dekelboum Concert Hall at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center of the University of Maryland. These recordings are housed within the University of Maryland Library System.

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