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A comparison of early and late twentieth-century approaches to romantic piano performance as heard in four representative recordings of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, Opus 18

Thomas Jack Willbanks, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to identify salient changes in approaches to Romantic piano music over the course of the twentieth century. This document includes focused study on the writings of notable pianists from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, comparing these writings to those of pianists from the later twentieth century. The main contexts in which Romantic pianism is discussed are individualism, piano competitions, and recordings. The writings studied constantly refer to individuality as a multifaceted, positive element of pianistic musicianship, and in many cases identify competitions and recordings as prohibitive of this aspect. A general shift in focus from fostering individualism to confronting situations in which individualism is influenced by other sources, particularly in competitions and recordings, is observed in the chronology of writings. ^ Four recordings, featuring performances of the Rachmaninoff Second Piano Concerto by distinguished pianists representative of individualistic musicianship, competition prizewinners, and recording artists, are analyzed in light of the writings discussed. The analysis reveals, in detail, that individualistic and expressive performances of Romantic piano music are possible in any age, despite concerns about the potential negative influence of recordings and competitions as indicated in the writings that were addressed.^

Subject Area

Music

Recommended Citation

Willbanks, Thomas Jack, "A comparison of early and late twentieth-century approaches to romantic piano performance as heard in four representative recordings of Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto, Opus 18" (2007). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3258769.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3258769

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