UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Kurtág's Játékok as lessons in musical expression Shi, Rui-Xuan


Teaching students to play the piano with more expression is one of the fundamental goals of piano pedagogy. The purpose of this study is to show how to help students develop careful and thoughtful articulation and interpretation, to gain experience performing contemporary piano works, as well as to improve their expression in the Classical and Romantic repertoire by having them learn selected pieces from Kurtág’s Játékok. Chapter 1 summarizes how musical “expression” has been defined by a number of philosophers, theorists, musicologists, and performers; it finds general agreement that four aspects of piano playing are especially important: tempo and flexible rhythm, dynamics, articulation, and sonority. Through analysis and discussion of many short pieces from Játékok Volume I – III, V – VII (Volumes IV and VIII are for piano duet and two pianos), Chapter 2 discusses how students can practice these aspects, learn a new music language through Kurtág’s notation, open their minds to accept new sound, and gain a complete knowledge of the music’s elaborate dynamic and expressive markings. The final chapter provides and discusses a progressive lesson plan, focusing on the major components that are demonstrated in Chapter 2. Kurtág’s Játékok is an excellent model for teaching, and it should be recognized and used as an important contribution to contemporary piano pedagogy.

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