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The influence of the English pianoforte on keyboard technique and composition from 1790 to 1826

Ouyang, Jing (2017) The influence of the English pianoforte on keyboard technique and composition from 1790 to 1826. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The purpose of this research is to define the significant elements of influence of the English piano regarding the style of piano playing and composing from 1790 to 1826. This study will focus on repertoire written by the group of composers labelled by Nicholas Temperley as the London Pianoforte School, which included Clementi, Cramer and Dussek. There is currently no systematic study or published scholarly discussion on this topic, which takes account of the full diversity of both the repertoire itself and the pianistic techniques and documented performance style of the London Pianoforte School. This study is to investigate the possible ways of performing the music on the pianofortes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, in order to help performers in the present day to produce variety of tone production and a historically informed performance on a modern piano. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the compositional and performance style in London changed in accordance with the rapid development of English pianos. An examination of the music written by composers of the London Pianoforte School shows that producing a singing tone; the favour of mixing harmonies; the variety of touches and extensive utilisation of embellishments in fast movements were significant characteristic elements of performance in London at the time. These features encouraged a new way of notating the scores in composition and of producing sound in performance. This study is led by my own practice as a performer in a series of representative works, interpreted critically on modern and historical instruments with a written commentary. The methodology I have used includes study of treatises on performance practice in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; reception history through contemporary reviews; autograph and original editions of musical scores and my own video demonstrations accompanied by annotated scores.

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