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Taneyev’s Influence on Practice and Performance Strategies in Early 20th Century Russian Polyphonic Music

Paliy, Olga (2017) Taneyev’s Influence on Practice and Performance Strategies in Early 20th Century Russian Polyphonic Music. Doctoral thesis (PhD), awarded for a Collaborative Programme of Research at the Royal Northern College of Music by the Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The contribution of the composer, pianist, pedagogue and theorist Sergey Taneyev to Russian musical culture at the turn of the twentieth century is evident. His input in the development of music theory and practice cannot be overestimated. Taneyev’s study of vertical-shifting and horizontal-shifting counterpoint in two and three voices explains the nature of polyphonic writing and assists in acknowledging the structure of a piece with further directions for practising. This dissertation demonstrates Taneyev’s influence on his contemporaries and the impact of his contrapuntal rules and technical instructions on the practice and performance strategies of specific polyphonic repertoire by Medtner, Prokofiev, Grechaninov, Stravinsky and Yevseyev. While working in archives in Russia on the first stages of my research in 2014 – 2015 I discovered Taneyev’s unpublished exercises for pianists. The significance of Taneyev’s pedagogical method and necessity to find an alternative approach in practising contrapuntal repertoire motivated me to explore his ‘Gymnastic exercises for hands and body,’ ‘On the subject of piano technique,’ ‘5-finger exercises’ and ‘Exercises in Arpeggios’ in order to demonstrate how they might be used in practice. Taneyev’s original instructions clarify the principal methods of voice-leading and create an individual approach for practice and performance methods. Chapter One of this dissertation summarises Taneyev’s professional achievements as a theorist, concert pianist and professor at the Moscow Conservatory. Chapter Two deals with the implementation of the fugue in the piano repertoire of Russian composers and the influence of Taneyev’s compositional technique on his students and contemporaries through particular melodic, rhythmic and structural features. Chapter Three describes Taneyev’s four manuscripts of original exercises I found in archives in Klin and Moscow. Although these documents were fully accessible to music scholarsin the archives they have never been used in publications or any other research developments and performance purposes. The application of Taneyev’s instructions in my practice of selected polyphonic piano works by Medtner, Prokofiev, Grechaninov, Stravinsky and Yevseyev is also discussed in this chapter. 6 The archival documents of Taneyev’s personal correspondence as well as manuscripts of his selected piano works and practical instructions are in Appendix One. My application of Schenkerian analysis to Taneyev’s unpublished Fugue in D major is represented in Appendix Two. This technique demonstrates the effectiveness of harmonic analysis. However, it diminishes the distinctiveness of this contrapuntal work, making unimportant the uniqueness of the musical texture and its unlikeness to any other composition. The printed version of the slides demonstrated in my lecture-recital can be found in Appendix Three.

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