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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

A Study of the Opus 1 Piano Compositions of Robert Schumann, Edvard Grieg, and Alban Berg

This lecture recital presents the first piano compositions of Robert Schumann (1810-1856), Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), and Alban Berg (1885-1935) specifically discussing the inspiration and emergence of these pieces as “Opus 1.” The composers were breaking away from the status quo and striking out on their own path to musical expression. Inspired by the impressionistic scenes and landscapes of Norway, Grieg wrote music that was much more elegant and harmonically adventurous than the dense writing that was typical of German Romanticism, even as he was coming to the culmination of his studies at the heavily traditional Leipzig Conservatory. Schumann began composing in a time when pianistic virtuosity was coming to its peak, and when communicative musicality was often sacrificed for flashy technique. Schumann’s first composition demonstrates his struggle to combine these two seemingly opposing forces. Berg exemplifies a composer who is both paying homage to the teaching philosophies imparted by his predecessors and is adapting them to his own musical style. In a time when the tonal boundaries of music were giving way to atonality, Berg showed that he had absorbed the principles of the Classical and Romantic periods and built on that foundation a new, very personal style of musical expressivity. Each of these pieces shows the composer’s individual approach to reinventing the styles and structures of the time. In this presentation, musical excerpts will be examined alongside research into musical styles and compositional processes and live performance of the works in question.

Presenter: Jessica Mackey (Ithaca College: School of Music) -- jmackey2@ithaca.edu
Topic: Dance - Piano Lecture/Recital
Location: Hartwell Dance Theatre
Time: 1:45 pm (Session III)