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Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms each wrote several masterworks for piano. This dissertation features the performance of selected masterpieces by each composer. These selected masterworks include Bach’s: The Italian Concerto BWV 971 and the Goldberg Variations BWV 988; Beethoven’s Sonatas Op. 10 No. 3, Op. 90, and Op. 111; and Brahms’s The Second Piano Concerto, Op 83. Focusing on these works was a meaningful way for me to investigate these essential composers as a foundation to learn about other pieces from other composers, not only German composers but also composers from some other countries in the future. As I studied these masterworks, it became easy to see how Bach influenced Beethoven to use counterpoint effectively, as the fugal writing technique exemplified in Beethoven’s sonatas Op. 106 and Op. 110 show clear contrapuntal skills. Then, one can see how Beethoven heavily influenced Brahms and note the similarity between the beginnings of the first movements of the Hammerklavier and Brahms’s First Piano Sonata. In addition, Chopin also frequently used contrapuntal writing in his compositions. For instance, Chopin’s Fourth Ballade demonstrates how strongly Bach influenced other composers. Beethoven and Brahms also greatly impacted future generations ofcomposers, such as Schubert, Schoenberg, and Bartók.

This DMA piano performance-oriented dissertation project includes one concerto recital, two solo recitals, and a written part of the dissertation. All three recitals occurred in the Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the University of Maryland at College Park, Maryland. On December 13, 2021, I performed the Brahms recital, supported by Yihan Sun playing the orchestral reduction; on May 10, 2022, performing the Bach recital; and on March 16, 2023, performing the Beethoven recital. The Digital Repository from the University of Maryland possesses the live audio recordings of these three recitals.