Billy O'Brien, 'Connecting abstract values to artistic choices' : memory, metaphor and interpretation in Ravel's Miroirs (DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music, 2023)

These details defined Fri Dec 18 17:02:56 2020, last updated Thu Mar 16 15:00:57 2023  edit
 Author:  O'Brien, Billy 
 Title:  'Connecting abstract values to artistic choices' : memory, metaphor and interpretation in Ravel's Miroirs  
 Degree, institution:  DMusPerf, Royal Irish Academy of Music 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2023 
 Volumes, pp.:  1 vol (x, 131 pp.)  
 Supervisor(s):  Denise Neary  
 Repository:  Royal Irish Academy of Music Library . 
 General specialism:  Musicology: Performance Studies  
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
Genres, instruments: 
Artistic Research; Piano Performance; Philosophy of Music; Interpretation
Maurice Ravel; Edgar Allan Poe

This investigation is concerned with the construction of an aesthetic understanding of Miroirs by Maurice Ravel, approaching the work from several scholarly perspectives, as well as that of pianist. While significant scholarship has been undertaken in relation to Ravel’s life and works from perspectives of criticism, aesthetics and biography, little exists by way of exploring the performance implications of this scholarship from a pianist’s perspective.

In addition to considering salient aesthetic trends associated with Ravel’s Miroirs and this period, the research pursues three general strands. The first strand identifies the particular influence of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ on Ravel’s approach to composition generally, and to Miroirs particularly. The interval of a falling major/minor third is proposed as a possible ‘refrain’ in Miroirs which can be understood by the pianist both in the context of Poe’s treatise, and contemporary scholarship on Ravel as ‘machinist’. The second strand explores the concept of memory as an aspect of both decadent and impressionist aesthetics. A mnemoanalysis of ‘Alborada del gracioso’ is conducted, investigating the potential of this work to be interpreted through Michael Puri’s memory analysis model. The third strand identifies timbral exploration as central to Ravel pianism, and the pianistic conceptualisation of timbre as metaphor is investigated. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach is taken to investigate the pianist’s lived experience of practicing ‘La vallée des cloches’ from Miroirs.

Finally, an autoethnographic reflection reveals the challenges involved in reconciling concepts in scholarship with performance practice in this area, offering an artist’s insight into the process of integrating ‘abstract values’ with ‘artistic choices’. The research ultimately sheds new light on how Miroirs can be understood from both critical and performance perspectives.