Marie-Charline Foccroulle, Final Thoughts? Interpretation of the First Movements of Beethoven’s and Schubert’s Last Three Piano Sonatas (DMus, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2017)

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 Author:  Foccroulle, Marie-Charline 
 Title:  Final Thoughts? Interpretation of the First Movements of Beethoven’s and Schubert’s Last Three Piano Sonatas 
 Degree, institution:  DMus, Royal Irish Academy of Music 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2017 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 (184pp.) 
 Supervisor(s):  Denise Neary 
 Repository:  Library of the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.   http://www.tara.tcd.ie/handle/2262/81818 
 General specialism:  Musicology: Performance Studies  
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
Persons:
Genres, instruments: 
sonata form movements
Beethoven; Schubert
piano sonatas
 Abstract: 

Considered as the apex of the literature for piano sonatas in the classical period, Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas, Opp. 109, 110, 111, and Schubert’s last three piano sonatas, D. 958, 959, and 960, are still well appreciated by pianists and are often played in concert. Much has been written about these pieces but this thesis examines the interpretation of the first movements of these works, by highlighting their particularities, explaining the impact of these on the interpretation, and, therefore, helping the understanding of the music for the performing process.

These six first movements contain fascinating and striking particularities, typical to each composer’s style, which strongly influence their interpretation. The thesis identifies the techniques that are responsible for these particularities in the music. It demonstrates why Beethoven’s three first movements are concise, driven by an inner energy, always moving forward, and it examines the purpose of the length in Schubert’s three first movements. This research also shows that all six first movements possess elements of unity and coherence, and that these are reached through very different means, depending on whether it is a movement by Beethoven or by Schubert.

It is a special and tremendous experience to perform these sonatas. It is the role of the pianist in his/her interpretation of these movements to underline and point out their particularities, as these represent the essence and hallmarks of Beethoven’s and Schubert’s musical discourse. This thesis gives answers inasmuch as it explains what performers have to be aware of, what they have to emphasise in their interpretation, and why they have to emphasise it. Thereafter, it is easier to give an eloquent interpretation of these movements, where their particularities are then clearly understandable.