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Piano Performance

Topics in Piano Performance explores many dimensions of piano performance, and focuses on different special topics each semester, made explicit by a decimalization of the course number, and the special topic designation as part of the course title. In addition to focusing on study of repertoire in a masterclass format, potential topics include performance practice associated with different eras in music, exploration of particular genres, issues surrounding public performance and memorization, improvisation in different styles, composition for the piano, sight-reading and score reading, collaborative piano, performance techniques for 20th and 21st century music, and jazz. Exact topics will vary each semester depending on student needs and interest. The class may be taken up to 4 times for credit.

The class is open to all music majors whose primary instrument is piano, and to non-music majors by permission of the instructor. Class topics culminate in a Final Performance Project in Lang Hall, usually focusing on works of a particular composer and/or genre, or a topic era, such as improvisation or collaborative piano.   Some examples from past and future semesters include Scriabin’s Preludes and Etudes, Shostakovich Preludes & Fugues, Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, Bartók’s Mikrokosmos (Vols. 4-6), Debussy’s Preludes, Schubert’s Winterreise (the entire song cycle, with each pianist performing 1-2 songs, accompanying M.A. Voice Majors) and Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano.

Auditions for non-piano majors are held just prior to and throughout the registration periods preceding the semester in which the class is offered. Students should be prepared to play at least one work, or substantial movement of a work. For more information, please contact Prof. Geoffrey Burleson.


Tuesdays 3:45-5:25, Rooms 407 & 413
Prof. Geoffrey Burleson

Undergraduate Students (B.A. and B.Mus.): MUSPF 365.01 (29819)
Graduate Students: MUS 717.01 (29215)

The course is open to all music majors whose primary instrument is piano, and to non-music major pianists by permission of the instructor.   No previous experience with improvisation is necessary, but the course will serve both students with no background, as well as students who do have experience as improvisers.

The course will explore essential, applied improvisation skills that all pianists should have. In addition to performance and study of repertoire in a masterclass format, topics will include:

-improvisation as a sight-reading skill
-improvisation as a tool for negotiating memory issues

-jazz harmony and scales
-Baroque ornamentation and improvisation
-Continuo playing, including figured bass reading

-Classical embellishment
-Improvisation/composition of cadenzas to Mozart concerti
-Romantic style improvisation
th/21st century aleatoric improvisation (John Cage, Terry Riley and beyond) -popular improvisation styles

Please note that this course will also fill the Ensemble Requirement for any students taking private lessons.
There will also be a final concert in Lang Hall, featuring improvisation projects. The class meets Tuesdays from 3:45-5:25, and the course numbers are:

Undergraduate Students (B.A. and B.Mus.): MUSPF 365.01 (29819)
Graduate Students: MUS 717.01 (29215)

Tu, 3:45-5:25, Rooms 407 & 413, Prof. Geoffrey Burleson

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