Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano (DMA)
The pianist's self: Political action in piano performance as a relational practice
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Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
In the modern symphony orchestra, it is common practice for the musicians to tune to the principal oboist’s note A– known as the “tuning-A”– at the beginning of a concert. Although tuning the orchestra is widely accepted by orchestral musicians and audiences as an important part of the oboist’s job, there is a lack of academic research on the practice. We do not yet have a clear understanding of why the oboist gives the tuning-A– a practice whose origins Geoffrey Burgess and Bruce Haynes call a “mystery” in their well-researched history of the instrument, The Oboe (2004). Further, because the practical knowledge required to successfully play the A has mainly been passed aurally from oboist to oboist, there is little written documentation of the practice. In this dissertation, I begin to document the oboist’s relationship to the orchestral tuning-A from three different perspectives. In Chapter One, using primary historical sources from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries, I trace the emergence of the oboist as the orchestral tuner around 1800 in Paris and the continued debates surrounding the oboe’s suitability for tuning into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Chapter Two, I discuss the findings of my original online survey of practicing principal oboists in Canadian professional orchestras, including evidence that oboists see the tuning-A not only as a practical tool, but as an expressive solo. I also address possible reasons for the oboe’s continued role in modern orchestral tuning, including the instrument’s unique timbre and oboists’ ability to adjust pitch. In Chapter Three, I present my analysis of the first movement of acclaimed American composer John Corigliano’s (1938- ) Oboe Concerto (1975), called “Tuning Game,” which the composer describes as “an extension of the preperformance tuning rite into a virtuosic game.” Using Hepokoski and Darcy’s Sonata Theory (2006) as a starting point, my original analysis shows the ingenuity of Corigliano’s use of the tuning-A as a defining compositional feature of “Tuning Game”—a perspective that no scholar has contributed before. Ultimately, I argue that the oboist’s tuning-A is a musical object with rich aesthetic value.
This dissertation is a comprehensive examination of the use of the sostenuto pedal by Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) in the first Appendix of his edition of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (1894) and Mit Anwendung des III. Pedals (Steinway & Sons Sustaining-Pedal) (1923). Although Busoni notated the use of the sostenuto pedal in these two works, scholars have largely overlooked the significance of his groundbreaking pedalling techniques. To contextualize the historical significance of Busoni’s use of the sostenuto pedal in the history of the piano repertoire, I analyze the use of the sostenuto pedal in Consolation No. 3 and Danse des Sylphes by Franz Liszt (1811-1886), for Liszt was the only major composer who notated his use of the sostenuto pedal before Busoni. I then use these findings to discuss Busoni’s first Appendix and Mit Anwendung des III. Pedals (Steinway & Sons Sustaining-Pedal), which represent Busoni’s extensive use of the sostenuto pedal but has not been discussed fully in scholarly literature. To illustrate Busoni’s impact, I demonstrate that his use of the sostenuto pedal pre-dated similar pedalling techniques employed by twentieth-century composers, including Percy Grainger (1882-1961), Luciano Berio (1925-2003), and George Crumb (1929-). My research findings provide a contextualized explanation of Busoni’s pedalling techniques and identify his contributions to the development of piano playing. Grounded in the most up-to-date and authoritative research, I show that Busoni found new ways to prolong and release tones by using the sostenuto pedal. He developed the use of the sostenuto pedal from merely prolonging a pedal point, as Liszt did, to devising four new pedalling techniques: 1) he altered the customary sequence of sound production of the piano: attack, sustain, and release; 2) he enabled the performance of contrasting articulations and dynamics in multi-layered textures; 3) he prolonged pedal points and increased the clarity of individual layers within multi-layered textures; 4) he formed polychords. Busoni’s use of the sostenuto pedal, I argue, expanded the pedalling technique of the piano.
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
No abstract available.