PIANIST-COMPOSERS WHOSE WORKS INCLUDE PIANISTIC INNOVATIONS
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Throughout the piano’s history, certain composers have created innovations in the areas of virtuosity and sonority. These innovations came not only from the composers’ imagination, but also from the development of instruments and changes in musical style from one period to another.
To investigate what kinds of innovations these pianist composers made, I divided them into technique and sound from Mozart to Cowell. I chose two-piano music (Sonata in D major, K.448 by Mozart and Rachmaninoff’s Second Suite) to demonstrate their experiments with varieties of textures and sonorities, using different registers of the two pianos orchestrally. En Blanc et noir by Debussy shows this composer’s deep interest and originality in piano sonorities.
For solo piano music, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op.53 shows extensive technical invention. His use of long pedal effects shows a pianistic possibility not explored by Mozart. Hummel’s Piano Sonata in D major represents orchestral devices as well as pianistic techniques showing recent developments in the instrument. Chopin’s Ballade No.3 and Scherzo No.3 show virtuosic moments and also the expanded range of the keyboard. His Nocturne Op.27, no.2, with its sonorities resulting from the combination of pedal, and widespread accompaniments derived from Alberti bass figures, is a perfect example of Chopin’s characteristic sound-world. “Vallée d’Obermann” by Liszt uses many virtuosic techniques as well as the extreme wide ranges of keyboard in both hands to create dramatic contrasts of texture. Debussy’s etude, “Pour les Sonorités opposés” is probably the first etude designed for sonority rather than for keyboard virtuosity. Albeniz’s “Evocación” and “Triana” show Spanish atmosphere. Prokofiev’s Sonata no.3 shows frequent motoric driving elements that demand percussive virtuosity. Cowell’s piano music is some of the earliest to explore the sonorities of tone clusters and playing on the strings. This performance dissertation consists of three recitals performed in the Orchestra Room, Leah Smith Hall, and Gildenhorn Recital Hall at the University of Maryland, College Park. These recitals are documented on compact disc recordings that are housed within the University of Maryland Library System.