UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Alberto Jonas' Master School and its role in early twentieth-century piano virtuosity Salvosa, Ross Edillor


First published in 1922 by Carl Fischer Music in New York, Alberto Jonas’ monumental seven-volume Master School of Modern Piano Playing and Virtuosity is the most comprehensive early twentieth-century treatise on piano playing. The present study provides a survey of the rise of the piano’s popularity, evolution of piano construction, and development of piano playing technique during the nineteenth century, as well as comparative studies of preparatory exercises found in commonly used volumes during Jonas’ lifetime, namely Franz Liszt’s Technical Studies (1873), Carl Tausig’s Daily Studies (1873), and Rafael Joseffy’s School of Advanced Piano Playing (1910). This thesis illustrates how the Master School’s scope and content surpassed those found in these pre-existing works. In comparison to the aforementioned works, the distinctive qualities of the Master School include its wider range of technical exercises; its inclusion of novel skills previously unexplored in the piano repertoire; its wealth of preparatory exercises for specific repertoire, accompanied by citations of specific examples that can be employed to practice specific technique; and its inclusion of essays on more refined aspects of piano playing such as pedaling, phrasing, and rhythm. This study posits that the Master School filled the need for a single comprehensive treatise on piano playing in the early twentieth century.

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