Nikolai Medtner's Forgotten Melodies, op. 38: sources, analysis, and interpretation
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Nikolai Karlovich Medtner (1880-1951) was a Russian composer, pianist and pedagogue. While active during the period of Modernism, he was one of the last descendants of the nineteenth-century tradition. Without a doubt, Medtner was considered one of the most brilliant successors of the Russian piano school, though his compositions did not particularly bring him a great deal of popularity in his time. Nonetheless, his unique style of writing has always attracted a small circle of musicians and admirers, and more recently, there has been a remarkable resurgence of interest in Medtner’s music. In the 2000s, several recent prizewinners of the International Tchaikovsky Competition – Daniil Trifonov, Dmitry Masleev, and Lucas Debargue – have shown their special interest in Medtner’s music, and this has drawn public attention to Medtner’s major piano works. However, discussions regarding performance practice and interpretation in playing Medtner have only recently begun. Although dissertations focused on Medtner’s music began to appear in the 1960s, primary sources have been examined by only a limited number of scholars, due to geographic and linguistic barriers. This dissertation aims to formulate and answer performance practice issues to develop a practical approach to learning and performing Medtner’s piano compositions. Since the primary sources related to op. 38 are comparatively abundant, and the work contains several pieces of contrasting character, Forgotten Melodies can serve as a good model for developing an informed approach to interpreting Medtner’s piano music. Analyses of three major types of material are provided to trace the chronological development of ideas in op. 38: sound recordings of Medtner’s own playing; written records by the composer and his student; and the score Medtner had on which he noted down his ideas. In addition to Medtner’s publication The Muse and the Fashion, unpublished diaries and essays found at the Medtner Archive (‘Fond Metnera’) of the Glinka National Museum of Musical Culture (Moscow, Russia) have also been examined.