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Preparing the Ernani Paraphrase for Performance


Piano transcriptions are often treated as superficial works, the sole purpose of which is to display the technical prowess of the performer. In this dissertation, I engage critically with this perspective by investigating the various layers present in transcriptions. The study will focus on the Ernani Paraphrase by Franz Liszt. The investigative question of this study is: “How can I intertwine the layered information gained through the analysis process of the Ernani Paraphrase with the embodied discoveries, in preparation towards performance?” I offer the palimpsest as an analogy through which to analyze the Ernani Paraphrase. In the palimpsest layers, dealing with the analyses, I trace a trajectory from the play and opera that inspired Liszt’s transcription, through the musical and social circumstances surrounding the transcription, and a musical analysis of the transcription itself. These layers are referred to as the ‘peeling away’ phases in the process. In the palimpsest layers, that follow the analytical phase, I engage autoethnographically with embodied explorations of the score while interacting with the piano as I prepare for an eventual performance. These embodied layers are perceived as the re-accumulation phase. Separating these various layers provides a unique overview of the work, its influences, and origins. Ultimately, all these layers will reaccumulate into what will become the palimpsest of performance. The analogy of the palimpsest proved effective in outlining the many origins and influences of the transcription which then inform later layers in preparing for the eventual performance.

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