Music, School of


Date of this Version

May 2006


A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts. Major: Music. Under the Supervision of Professor. Mark K. Clinton
Lincoln, Nebraska. May, 2006.
Copyright 2006 Marina Fabrikant.


In 1893 Ferruccio Busoni transcribed, for the piano, the famous Bach Chaconne for violin solo from the Partita No.2 in D minor. Numerous transcriptions of this piece for different various instruments exist; however Busoni's transcription stands above all others. The purpose of this study was to analyze what the famous, twentieth-century pianist did when he transcribed Bach's Chaconne. What information exists on the topic comes primarily from pianists who dared to learn this exceptionally difficult, beautiful composition. Busoni's accomplishments lie in the new concept, a conceptual transcription, which has two roots: understanding how, historically, we are connected to the music, and how once genres have a special meaning in the twentieth-century. Every generation of musicians brings their own specific point of view and interpretation.

Busoni lived on the border of the two centuries and, in his transcription, reveled in several issues overlooked by the previous generation. With his keen understanding of the piece, Busoni highlighted many different genres present in the music, thus allowing recognition of the last movement of the Partita No. 2 in D minor as a Requiem for Bach's wife.

By underscoring the genres, Busoni used them as strata. The idea of strata comes from the aesthetics of “play,” and from a different approach to the quality of sound on piano originally intended for a high string instrument. Busoni's arrangement of the texture added both orchestral quality and stereophonic perception.

The strata add to a certain reading of Bach's original. Busoni promoted a dramatic approach opening the possibility of reading the chaconne as a multi-layered form. Through Busoni', we see the possibility not only of a tripartite, variation form, but also a composition, with the elements of a concerto, and a sonata. Who could imagine, that a composition written by a young composer at the fin de siecle, intended for practical use by pianists, would subtly influence so many contemporaries and generations, that they will find his findings and music inspiring.

Adviser: Dr. Mark K. Clinton

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