Composers, performers, and the piano
This honors thesis explores the development of the piano as an instrument, and the manner in which composers and pianists have developed side by side with the piano. The development of the piano, composition, and performance are not mutually exclusive; in fact, these processes are significantly intertwined. In order to show this, the thesis moves chronologically, starting in 1700 with the creation of the first predecessor of the modern piano, the fortepiano. Musical score examples are analyzed and put into context of the instrument available to the composer. This is a performance-based thesis, and several of the musical examples that are analyzed in writing have a video component with my performance and explanation of various concepts. As a performer today, it is important to understand the history of the composition and the instruments that were available to the composer at the time. This allows for a more informed and stylistically appropriate performance. One of the primary goals of this thesis is to present a performer's perspective of the history of the instrument and composition styles, as well as a survey of the many changes the piano has gone through. Chapter 1 provides background info on the beginnings of the instrument. Chapter 2 focuses on Beethoven's instruments and compositions, as well as performance of his music today. Chapter 3 and 4 continue in the same format, moving chronologically to present-day.