lecture-recitals and workshops

The Austrian pianist Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000) possessed one of the largest artistic personalities of the twentieth century. A master interpreter of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and the French Impressionists, Gulda won the International Geneva Competition at the age of 16 and embarked on a worldwide performing career, making appearances with virtually every major orchestra. On a visit to New York in 1950, Gulda was exposed for the first time to American jazz music and was immediately fascinated by the rhythms and harmonies. Gulda caused uproar among conservative critics during his lifelong attempt to bridge the jazz and classical worlds. The cycle ‘Play Piano Play’ documents Gulda’s contribution to crossover pedagogy.

Play Piano Play was compiled in 1971 as a series of etudes that served a dual purpose: first as ‘practice/preparatory pieces’ intended to introduce classical pianists to modern piano style and help them develop the stimuli to improvise, and secondly as “fun” pieces for the performer and audience. This lecture-recital will feature a performance of the etudes and an exploration into their genre, technical and creative demands.

Charles Rosen says about Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in A-flat, “There is a scenario to Op. 110, but whether it refers to any real event or literary inspiration we do not know, and it would not help us either to play the piece or listen to it if we could find out. ”  However, Alfred Kanwischer in his article about Op. 110 in The Beethoven Journal refers directly to J.S. Bach.  The aim of this lecture recital is to examine Beethoven’s use of musical symbolism and Baroque elements to understand the dramatic character of his Piano Sonata, Op. 110 in A-flat.

The lecture recital will feature an exploration of various Baroque elements – namely the double-dotted rhythm, bebung, weeping appoggiatura, lamento and cross motive. Various methodologies for the relevant definitions of the aforementioned will be used and Baroque examples for each of these will be given, along with a further investigation into Beethoven’s application of these devices in his sonata. Motivic, structural and melodic parallels will be drawn between the Op. 110 sonata and various works by J.S. Bach and other Baroque composers. Sources will include extensive notational examples, reference to published articles and sound recordings. Live excerpts will be played by the presenter.

Ginastera’s American Preludes were Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983) is one of the most influential Latin American composers of the twentieth century. Many of his works are a fusion of Argentine and “western” elements. Composed in 1944, his Doce Preludios Americanos (Twelve American Preludes) were “experimental studies,” where he further explored his understanding of pianistic technique, counterpoint and sonority. These preludes, which are fantastic teaching pieces for late beginners to early advanced pianists, are short pieces that pay tribute to a specific person, genre, mode or study. Like the preludes of Chopin, they are short, one to three-page long pieces that present either a technical challenge to the performer, or evoke a certain mood or genre. This workshop, entitled Ginastera’s Doce Perludios Americanos: Twelve studies in culture, style and technique is aimed not to tell one how to play them, but to provide the basic information essential for students and teachers to know to overcome technical and musical challenges and make informed decisions about interpretation.

Other Recent Presentations

“Beautiful playing!”


As an adjudicator, teacher, and audience member, I have been guilty of using this blanket statement when I cannot directly admit that the performance I have just heard, although polished in its own right, was just plain boring! Join me as I discuss ways of going beyond “beautiful playing” to create and identify nuances in sound and intention in order to give a performance that communicates endless possibilities.