Thesis submission ID 948 | created | last updated

Didzis Kalninš, An investigation of Janis Medinš’s Piano Sonata (1946): historical context, analysis, editing and performance
DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2023

Volumes, pp.: 1 vol (ix, 176 pp.)  
Supervisor(s): Denise Neary
Repository (online):
Repository (hard copy): Royal Irish Academy of Music Library

General specialism: Musicology: Performance Studies
Key terms, concepts: Analysis; Performance history; Editing
Key terms, persons: Janis Medinš
Key terms, places: Latvia
Key terms, genres, instruments: Piano sonatas

The professional music scene in Latvia and its developments in the early twentieth century were impacted by the often-changing geopolitical scene within the region. Despite the severe aftermath of the Second World War, musicians responded with an extraordinary diversity to an utterly changed world and music continued to flourish with momentous deviation on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

This thesis investigates the Piano Sonata composed by the Latvian composer Janis Medinš (1890-1966), written in 1946 in a refugee camp in Blomberg, Germany. The Piano Sonata marks a symbolic turn in the composer’s musical style from late Romantic to Modernism, arguably reflecting his post-war impressions while being forced to leave Latvia due to the invasion by the Soviet Union in 1944. Even though the autograph has survived, it has never been published and there is an extremely limited performance history as a result. Jānis Medinš’s Piano Sonata is an extremely complex musical work due to its rich and expressive musical language. The exploration of new, previously unheard modes of expression, new techniques, aesthetic and cultural effects in the context of his own musical work places his piano sonata in a unique position. I have created the first typeset edition and the first history of the performance preparation of Janis Medinš’s Piano Sonata, unveiling his musical aptitude.

The current scholarship of the composer and his autobiography is reviewed under discussion of this thesis. While preparing a typeset edition as part of this project, the approach to editing and the treatment of a manuscript are examined in the context of Medinš’s Piano Sonata. Subsequently, the treatise on editing is followed by a brief discussion of piano sonata development in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly in Latvian piano literature, exploring the first significant manifestations of the modernist expression. Furthermore, a morphological and formal analysis of the Piano Sonata is undertaken, examining structural and musical aspects of the composition and exploring its dramatic quality instilled within. Finally, the implications on performance are discussed, concluding the dissertation with the edited work and a recording.

Thesis submission ID 948