Tracing the enhancement of sonorities in Beethoven's sonatas
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The present paper makes use of spectrographic analysis to prove the development of sonorities in Beethoven's sonatas in close connection to the fortepiano's progress. Two aspects are taken in consideration for this sound study. First, the history of the fortepiano sound during Beethoven's lifetime attests to his incredible opportunity of playing on the best instruments of the day and also of learning from an emerging instrumental color. Secondly, the theoretical analysis of fortepiano sound uses spectrographic images to show the progressive writing style in his keyboard sonatas. The compositions analyzed here are the Allegro from op. 2 #1, the Allegro assai from op. 57 and the Maestoso/Allegro con brio ed appassionato from op. 111 . All these movements from the three Beethovenian periods exemplify specific instrumental qualities. The first sonata is associated with the Walter fortepiano, the "Appassionata" with the Erard and the last sonata with the Broadwood. All sonographs in this comparison study make use of personal or professional recordings on period instruments. Applying Robert Cogan and Pozzi Escot's definition of sonic design, the elements of musical space, language and time are analyzed here in close connection with that of color. The three-dimensional images reveal valuable information about Beethoven's sonorous intentions in designing a particular piece of music for a particular medium. Surprisingly, most of the findings contradict modem day performance practices and provoke the pianist of today to further explore spectral analysis of fortepiano sounds. The paper argues that only after understanding Beethoven's sound concepts can a pianist present an authentic performance of his sonatas. Players are encouraged to learn from the period instruments' colors and duplicate them on the modern piano. The goal unquestionably remains to comprehend the composer's intentions for sonic design and acurately present the character of the music.
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