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Martin Bresnick’s Piano Compositions: An Analysis and Performance Guide

Helena Kalviboon Aung, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This document is intended to be a practical tool for those interested in performing, researching, and developing a deeper understanding of Martin Bresnick’s keyboard music. As one of György Ligeti’s pupils, the practice of micropolyphony is prevalent in his music, and influences from Schumann, Bach, Beethoven, Webern, and others are discussed. The document presents brief biographies of Bresnick and his wife, the pianist Lisa Moore, and contextualizes each piano composition. Analyses of the compositional techniques utilized for each piece are provided, and connections to the music of other genres, such as blues and rock and roll, are elucidated. The composer’s explorations of atonality, serialism, blues form, and other structural frameworks are highlighted. While Bresnick operates in a vast array of compositional styles and genres, he often combines elements commonly found in his works, such as contrapuntal voices, minimalism, a harmonic palette that creates chromatic sounds, and open consonant harmonies reminiscent of rock music. Following the analysis is a performance guide to inform pianists about Bresnick’s artistic intent and the outcome he expects from the notations. Lisa Moore also shares her perspective on the technical issues encountered in Bresnick’s piano works, since she premiered most of them and provided some creative inspiration. Finally, the appendix features a list of Bresnick's compositions and transcribed interviews with Bresnick and Moore.The ultimate goal of this examination is to introduce this prolific American composer to pianists who want to perform his music and to audiences who wish to explore his musical language.

Subject Area

Music|Performing Arts|Musical composition

Recommended Citation

Aung, Helena Kalviboon, "Martin Bresnick’s Piano Compositions: An Analysis and Performance Guide" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29997824.