Intentions and Interpretations: Form, Narrativity and Performance Approaches to the 19th-Century Piano Ballade

Hadjiandreou, Andri. 2014. Intentions and Interpretations: Form, Narrativity and Performance Approaches to the 19th-Century Piano Ballade. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis is concerned with how a performer might engage with the supposed narrative elements in piano ballades of the nineteenth century, and more generally with the performative principles that would be needed to sustain a narrative realisation of music wherever it seemed appropriate. Of course, the presence of narrative elements in music is usually defined not according to the methods employed by performers, but to those familiar from literary, historical, contextual and analytic studies of the music-as-a-text. Therefore a first step is to examine the tensions between methodologies centred on the “work-as-a-text”, and those concerned with the act of performance. Some important distinctions between critical interpretations and performance interpretations are suggested, even if the former sometimes provide an instigating basis for the latter. Out of this comes a need to demonstrate that, in respect to musical “meaning”, performance has a generative as well as reproductive role, and that the processes and decisions embedded in the acts of rehearsal and the “unfolding-through-time” of performances are central to the creation and emergence of such meanings, including narrative meanings. Next, the evidence for the existence of narrative meanings in music is placed in a particular historical context (that concerned with the development of the piano ballade and its conventions), and in the framework of the changing aesthetic attitudes towards programme music in the first half of the nineteenth century –attitudes that played out in radically different ways in relation to those piano works by Chopin, Schumann and Liszt that form part of this study. The focus then turns to possible and actual performances of these works, and questions are asked about how performances, as implicative sonic shapes and gestural events, for example, might be analysed and theorised by employing recent methodologies of the discipline of performance studies. A final step is to develop and test those findings against a series of case studies of performance approaches to particular works – by Kullak, Chopin, and Liszt – the last two of which are included in the recital that accompanies this doctoral investigation.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Musical performance, narrativity, piano ballades, 19th century, performance approaches, interpretation

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



10 December 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

10 Dec 2014 11:41

Last Modified:

06 Sep 2022 22:10


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