An abstract submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
For the degree of Master of Music,
Gyeseon Choe
May 2013
The abstract of Gyeseon Choe is approved:
Dr. Sandra Bostrom-Aguado
Dr. Pei Shan Lee
Dr. Dmitry Rachmanov, Chair
California State University, Northridge
I would like to express my deepest appreciation to my committee chair, Dr.
Dmitry Rachmanov, who had attitude and substance of genius: he continually and
convincingly conveyed the spirit of adventure in regard to performing piano and
scholarship. Without his guidance and persistent help, I would not be able to grow
as a musician and as a performer.
…to Dr. Sandra Bostrom-Aguado and Dr. Pei Shan Lee, my graduate committee,
for the work they did to help me achieve my degree.
…to Gerald Lee, for helping with writing the papers.
…to Han Na Park, for accompanying the Piano Concerto in G Major by Maurice
Ravel (Nov. 12. 2011).
Table of Content
Signature page....…………………………………………..……………………...ii
Acknowledgement page....………………………………..…………………..….iii
Johann Sebastian Bach ............................................................................................1
Ludwig van Beethoven………………………………………………..…………..3
Sergei Rachmaninoff………………………………………………..…………….6
Johannes Brahms……………………………………………………….................8
Franz Liszt………………………………………………………..................…...10
Alexander Scriabin……………………………………………..........…………..12
Maurice Ravel.......................................................................................................15
Graduation Recital Program………………….....................................................17
Piano Concerto Recital Program………………………….……….....................19
Gyeseon Choe
An abstract submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements
For the degree of Master of Music,
This abstract is a review of my two piano recitals to fulfill the requirements
for the degree of Master of Music at California State University of Northridge.
All of repertoire selected is regarded as advanced to demonstrate profound
knowledge at a master’s degree level.
I have two recitals to fulfill my master’s degree requirements, which are
Maurice Ravel G Major Piano Concerto recital on Saturday, November12, 2011,
4:30 PM, at Cypress Hall, 158 and Graduation recital on Friday, December 7,
2012, 4:30 PM, at Cypress Hall, 158.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude and Fugue in a minor BWV889
Well-Tempered Clavier book II
Johann Sebastian Bach was the most significant Baroque composer whose life
and work coincided with the completion of the Baroque period. He enhanced
German musical style through his skill, especially through counterpoint. He was
born on March 21 1685, in Eisenach, Germany into a family of musicians. His
father, Johann Ambrosius Bach was a director of the town musicians, his uncles
were also trained musicians. Bach learned violin and harpsichord from his father,
and his brother, Johann Christoph Bach, taught him clavichord. Bach went to St
Michael's School in Lüneburg. After graduating, he held several musical careers
across Germany: he served as the Kapellmeister (director of music) to Leopold,
Prince of Anhalt-Köthen, as Cantor of Thomasschule in Leipzig, and as Royal
Court Composer to August III. Most of Bach's important works were written in
Weimar, Cöthen and Leipzig, with his keyboard works have improvisatory and
virtuoso aspect, among the best known of them are the set of preludes and fugues
called The Well-Tempered Clavier. It is composed in two sets of volumes, the
first one was completed at Cöthen in 1722, and the second was assembled in
Leipzig around 1740. Each portion contains twenty-four preludes and fugues, one
prelude and one fugue in each of the twenty-four major and minor keys.
The A minor prelude is set as a strict two part invention and has a chromatic
melodic lines. The chromatically descending eighth notes from A to E can be
regarded as the piece’s main theme. There are two exactly similar halves of
sixteen measures each: first half (17-24), second half (25-32). In the second part,
the main subject appears in inversion in both voices in bars 17-18, 21-22 and 2526. Finally in measure 30-31, this process is reversed –a visual symmetric
structure can be found here. According to Carl Czerny, this prelude is not
pianissimo and should be played in the legato touch. The eighth note of the
prelude equals the same tempo of the quarter note of the Fugue (tempo-wise).
The opening of the fugue starts with falling 3rd and 7th leaps of the quarter
notes then the quarter notes split into the eighth-note grouping. This fugue follows
the strict academic rules of the fugue writing. Its subject appears once then
modulates to the dominant and after the exposition, never returns to its original
form again; it can be found only in this fugue in the second volume of The WellTempered Clavier. It reappears either with an altered main subject (bar 14-15 in
the soprano, bar 26-27 in the bass) or it has been shortened from quarter notes into
eighth notes. The style and mood of this fugue is extremely contrasting with its
prelude even though its subject is foreshadowed in the first bar of the prelude in
the upper voice. This fugue is played with a heavy and powerful tone; therefore
the tempo should not be too quick.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Sonata in A-flat major, No. 31, Op. 110
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is one of the central composers from the
Classical era, and he was very influential in the transition from the Classical to the
Romantic era. His music lived on to influence the musicians of the subsequent
Romantic generations. He continuously developed new musical styles and forms
based on the traditional musical styles of his day, which is especially evident in
his piano music. Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas which exhibit the classical
musical style and foreshadowed the Romantic period. For example, his use of
very contrasting dynamic markings beyond the norms of the Classical era – but
more common in the works of Romantic composers – would allow expressing
much stronger, more dramatic moods. In particular, his later sonatas generally
show strong romantic lyricism. A study of Op.110 indicates a resolute change and
employment of the contrapuntal technique, a dramatic recitative style with
improvisatory elements.
The Piano Sonata No. 31 in A - flat major, Op. 110, by Ludwig van Beethoven
was composed in 1821. This sonata combines the elements of Classical form,
Baroque polyphony and Romantic spirit. The first movement features highly
expressive lyrical thematic material embedded in the sonata form, without
showing strong contrasts between the themes. Its lyricism is expressed by serene
melodic material. The development section is short and concise, and with
recapitulation show a varied progress of the exposition. Moreover, there is no
clear division between the exposition, development and recapitulation. This is
clearly different form of classical period and the composer’s earlier period
sonatas. The second movement is a ternary form of scherzo with trio. Generally,
scherzo is in triple meter type, but this second movement is in two-four time. In
addition, Beethoven borrowed some parts of the main theme from Silesia folk
songs of Germany and Austria. In the last movement, Beethoven used
contrapuntal melody as the main subject, specifically in the fugal theme. In this
3rd movement, the theme is derived from the beginning of the piece in order to
connect the themes of each movement. The third movement combines impromptu
recitative, aria and contrapuntal fugue, while the second fugue is inverted from
the first one.
The finale of this sonata links the function of a slow movement, and a fast
movement alternately. Marked Adagio, the movement starts in B - flat minor key.
Then it moves to the instrumental recitative section. Beethoven might have
wanted to overcome the inseparable division between an Adagio and a Finale and
elevate them to unity. He solved this difficult problem by making the fugue the
prevailing section and substantiating it the desired unity simultaneously. He
achieved this by reducing the two Arioso sections to their official function as the
elements of an Adagio. As the Arioso is in two parts, so is the fugue. The majority
of fugues consist essentially of three sections:
An exposition, announcing chiefly the tonic key,
A middle section, using the contrast of various other keys
A final section, returning to the tonic key as the counterpart of the exposition
How this scheme can be divided into two parts is a difficult problem. Only
Beethoven’s true understanding of the fugue, based on profound, intimate
commitment rather than on text-books, enabled him to do this, and still leave it
flawless as a true fugue.
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873 – 1943)
Etudes – Tableaux op.39 No.2, Op33 No.9
Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff was born on April 1, 1873 in Oneg, near
Novgorod in Russia. He was considered one of the greatest pianists of his time
and wrote a great amount of piano music. His two sets of Etudes – Tableaux
(op.33 and 39) were composed in 1911 and 1917. Opus 33 consists of six etudes
and opus 39 has nine etudes. They were the last of his short piano pieces. During
this time, there was a growth of Rachmaninoff’s continuing pursuit of a specific
kind of programme music. The Etudes are in general longer pieces than any of the
preludes, but like the preludes they achieve the effect of crystalizing a particular
mood within the smallest possible structure. Rachmaninoff was often fascinated
and inspired by pictures and poetry. However, he usually hid this from the public.
Etudes – Tableaux A minor Op. 39 No .2
This ‘Lento assai’ Etude, also known as "The Sea and the Seagulls”, is one of
the finest of Rachmaninoff’s miniatures. It is derived from the simple triplet idea
in the left hand and the cross falling rhythmic motive in the right hand. Though
technically less complicated, the work contains many musical textures that make
it a difficult study in touch. This melancholy piece requires much restraint from
the performer to project the serene mood of this Etude. A sensitive performance is
required to keep the music from sounding monotonous.
Etudes – Tableaux C sharp minor Op. 33 No. 9
This Etude is one of the most powerful one of the two set of Etudes –
Tableaux. This is the music at its most freely expressive and highly mature state.
Rachmaninoff was a complete master of the tonal capabilities of the instrument,
and he tried to produce moving and dramatic sequences. A big and loud chord
progression create the dramatic opening and continues throughout the piece, while
prevailing patterns of leaps in the left hand, creates an enormous roaring effect.
The piece mainly consists of grand dissonant chords but also contains an elegant
romantic interlude as well.
Johannes Brahms
Variations on an Original Theme in D Major Op. 21 No.1
Johannes Brahms was the son of a professional musician, Jakob Brahms, who
also was his first music teacher. Brahms was a romantic period composer. Even
though Romanticism was the predominant style in the 19th century, Brahms was
different from other romantic composers. His music was rather conservative, and
was more of a reflection of the classical period. He had a great affinity for solid
and substantial forms, which he inherited from Johann Sebastian Bach (16851750) and Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827).
Brahms aimed to honor the purity of these venerable German structures and
advance them into a Romantic idiom, in the process creating bold new approaches
to harmony, melody and, especially, rhythm.
11 Variations in D Major on an original theme, op.21 No.1 were composed in
1857 and published by 1861. Speaking of this work, Florence May in her book
‘The Life of Johannes Brahms’ says that this cycle “shows the composer in one of
his Bach-Beethoven-Brahms moods”. This work was a part of an exercise in
variation technique that Brahms tried to experiment with and challenge himself as
composer in devising a theme. The irregular lengths of each repeated half--nine
bars each--remain mostly consistent through the variations. It has an asymmetrical
thematic structure with an extra measure in it throughout the entire variations. In
the beginning of the first half and continuing onto the second half with a sustained
“pedal” bass, he created implications that are sometimes followed closely,
sometimes taken to great extremes (as in Variation 3, where the sustained bass is
extended throughout), and sometimes ignored.
The theme and all the variations are in D major except for Variations 8, 9 and
10 (minor key). Theme and Variations 1, 5 and 11 are with the tempo mark of
poco larghetto, Variations 2, 3, 4 and 6 piu moto, Variation 7 Andante con moto,
Variation 8, 9 and 10 Allegro non troppo. The theme consists of double phrases
and major-minor modulation to embellish. Each variation has a separate melody like a dialogue, in which hands and voices are alternated. Especially, Variation 3
has a melody formed from the same chord sequence as that used in Beethoven’s
Op.26 (Variation IV of the first movement). Of the variations, the very
sophisticated “canon in contrary motion” of Variation 5 is perhaps the most
distinctive. Also worth noting, are the very sparsely textured Variation 7 and the
agitated trio of variations in the minor key (Variation 8-10) that precedes the final
variation and finale. The low trill of the last variation takes the sustained bass to
its logical conclusion.
These variations are full of technical independence and thick and heavy texture
with an allusion to Beethoven’s harmonic sequence. There exists a piano duet
version of this cycle arranged by Robert Keller.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d’Este (From ‘Années de pèlerinage’, Third year)
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) was not only a very creative composer and great
pianist, but he also knew how to appeal to the public. He was very adept at
understanding what musical styles were popular at the time. When he was ten
years old, he studied piano with Carl Czerny (1791-1857) and learned
composition with Antonio Salieri (1750-1825). As many other great pianists, he
liked to show off his virtuosity and had one of the most glamorous piano careers
in history. He originated the term “Recital” and was the first musician to use that
word and played entire solo programs by memory. He wrote approximately 1200
pieces of music during his lifetime, half of which were written for piano.
Franz Liszt spent the late 1830s traveling throughout Switzerland and Italy
with his mistress Marie d’Agoult. During his travels the Alpine landscapes of
Switzerland, as well as masterworks of the Italian Renaissance, compelled him to
compose the first two books of his three-part Années de Pèlerinage (“Years of
Pilgrimage”), titled Première année: Suisse (First year: Switzerland) and
Deuxième année: Italie (Second year: Italy) form his personal reflections. After
the publication of Deuxième année: Italie, Liszt published the third and final set
of Années de Pèlerinage. This final set reveals only the title of Troisième année,
with no reference to a location. However, three of its seven pieces draw
inspiration from the Villa d’Este, a Renaissance villa in Tivoli, outside of Rome,
where Liszt stayed at the invitation of Cardinal Gustav Adolf Hoholohe. Liszt
depicted its gardens as having many fountains, pools and water troughs of Villa
d’Este in Les jeux d’eau à la Villa d’Este (“The Fountains of Villa d’Este”), the
most popular piece of the final cycle. Composed in 1877, the piece foreshadows
the Impressionism of Debussy in its sound representation of water, and it became
a remarkable example of Liszt’s use of coloristic effects. Cast in the key of Fsharp major, it opens with brilliant arpeggios of extended chords (ninths and
elevenths), using devices such as tremolandi, in the upper register of the piano,
which is used exclusively throughout the piece as Liszt depicted the brilliant flow
of water throughout the gardens of Villa d’Este. However, in the middle of the
piece, Liszt departs temporarily from the pictorial presentation of water to a
spiritual moment instead. A simple melody emerges, accompanied by harp-like
arpeggios, Liszt said, “Sed aqua quam ego dabo ei, fiet in eo fons aquae salientis
in vitam aeternam” (“But the water that I shall give him shall become in him a
well of water springing up into eternal life”). A passage similar to the beginning
returns the listener to the Villa d’Este gardens. However, the unembellished
chords of the closing once more draw the attention to the mystical element of the
middle section.
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
Sonata No.4 in F-Sharp Major, Op. 30
Alexander Nikolaevich Scriabin (1872-1915) was a Russian composer and
pianist, whose style spanned from the Romanticism in the late 19th century to the
20th century. His was new language in the transitional era in music history. He
was also renowned as the first modern - style composer. Scriabin's music hardly
had any Slavic influences, despite his Russian origin. His music was very
different from other Russian composers in style during the same era; he created
his own world with 'mystic chords' and his own harmonic scheme. Scriabin's
compositional style can be divided into three periods: a period of romanticism
influenced by Chopin (before 1903); a transitional period towards modernism
(1903-1910); and a period of mysticism of his own unique style (1910-1915).
Although there is no doubt about the romantic origin of his early works during the
first period, his style evolved to create an innovative style. During the second
period Scriabin was influenced by Wagner, one of the most influential composers
of the 19th century. Scriabin's chromaticism, which was influenced by Wagner's
Tristan and Isolde, eventually enabled his romantic aesthetics to access a more
innovative compositional style through dissonance and advanced harmonies. In
the last period, Scriabin devised a new tonal system out of his own mystic chord
to create unique sonorities. He also became obsessed with mysticism, constantly
inquiring into Nietzsche's philosophy. Scriabin developed his mysticism in
‘Prefatory Action’, a mystical work combining various art forms. Scriabin also
tried to incorporate images of literature, color and dance in his music often
entitled his pieces with the word "poem", i.e. "Poem of Ecstasy", "Poem of Fire",
"Satanic Poem" and "Tragic Poem".
His attempt to create mystic chords and unite them with mysticism continued
to the end of his life. Scriabin wrote music in which color and tonalities were
interrelated, and he expressed the characteristics of color amazingly well and was
noted for the union of mysticism and eroticism (although Scriabin himself
preferred to call it Ecstasy).
The Fourth Sonata Op.30 (1903), belongs to the second period, it shows his
new harmonic language. A beautiful Andante opening movement is full of
polyrhythms such as units of 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 notes juxtaposed against units of
different rhythmic numbers of notes. This sonata is divided into two closely
related movements, both cast in the warm radiant key of F sharp major. While still
making use of tonal structures, Scriabin was also in the process of developing new
harmonic language which was steering away from tonality to atonality. The
writing is notated occasionally on three staves. The first sonority we hear at the
opening of the first movement, in the left-hand is essentially a B 'major 7th' chord,
the outer parts containing the interval of the seventh. A parallel chromatic descent
begins which lasts throughout the first four bars. The first movement (Andante) is
built from two major motives, one reaching upward with many melodic leaps, the
other moving more linearly. The earlier idea eventually prevails, and the second
movement (Prestissimo volande) begins without interruption between movements
and linked to the Andante by attacca. In this flight-like spontaneous movement,
cast in the sonata-allegro form, the upward reaching theme reappears, now with
greater power and in a context of higher agitation. The music returns to the
abridged first theme and moves to the expanded second theme, which builds to a
huge climax towards to the end. In the magnificent coda, the upward-reaching
motive of the first movement restates itself for the last time; finally the sonata
ends in a truly joyful and triumphant mood.
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G Major
Maurice Ravel was born March 7 in 1875 in Cibourn, a seaport on the Basque
coast separating Nevell from Sain-Jean-de-Luz. At the age of seven, he began to
take piano lesson form Henry Ghys. Even as child, he said “I was sensitive to all
kinds of music. My father, who was infinitely better qualified than the majority
of amateurs, knew how to develop my taste and stimulate my interest at an early
Piano Concerto in G major was composed between 1929 and 1931. At the
same time he was writing his Concerto for the Left Hand. Ravel wrote the two
concertos at once and he said “It was an interesting experience,” as he told a Daily
Telegraph correspondent. The G Major concerto is in three movements, and is
heavily influenced by jazz, light, breezy and brilliant in style. Ravel said: “The
most captivating part of jazz is its rich and diverting rhythm… Jazz is a very rich
and vital source of inspiration for modern composers and I am astonished that so
few Americans are influenced by it.” 2
This concerto allows us to see the composer’s intentions very clearly. It is a
virtuoso piece that Ravel wanted to initially call it a “divertissement (light and
amusement musical piece)”. He later decided to keep it in the concerto form that
would be more suitable for this piece.3 The first movement opens with a unique
blend between the Basque and Spanish sounds of Ravel's youth and the newer
Roland –Manuel, Maurice Ravel. (New York: Dover Publication, INC., 1972), 17.
Rogers, M. Robert. Jazz Influence on French Music. The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 1. (Jan., 1935), pp. 53-68.
Roland-Manuel, 101
jazz styles he had gotten to like. Like many other concerti, the opening
movement is written in the standard sonata-allegro form, but considerably more
emphasized on the exposition.
The cadenza of the 1st movement is unique with its right-hand trills over the
arpeggio left hand, reminiscent of Liszt. The coda is delightful, percussive and
concise. The slow movement is modeled after the Larghetto of Mozart’s Clarinet
Quintet, K.581. The lied- like main theme, marvelously beautiful but simple is
played over the persistent triplet rhythm. The second movement is uncommon
because of its extreme simplicity, while the third movement is written in an
abridged sonata form and it brings back the intensity of the first movement with
its fast themes and difficult passage-work. The piano introduces the first subject,
a fast broken chord figure; while the winds and brass sections enter with dissonant
exclamations. The movement continues with many interjections and progresses
through a multitude of modes before finally coming to its conclusion. Lastly, the
movement ends with the same four chords with which it began. Due to its short
length, this last movement is often repeated as an 'encore' after the concerto.
California State University, Northridge
The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication
Department of Music
Gyeseon Choe
In her Master of Music Recital
A Student of Dr. Dmitry Rachmanov
Friday, December 7, 2012, 4:30 PM, Cypress Hall, 158
Prelude and Fugue A minor BWV 889
Well– Tempered Clavier II………………………………………………Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685 -1750)
Sonata in A Flat Major Op. 110 ………………………………….....Ludwig van Beethoven
(1770 - 1827)
Moderato cantabile molto espressivo
Allegro molto
Adagio ma non troppo, Arioso dolente- Allegro ma non troppo, Fuga
Etudes – Tableaux ………………………………………………………………Sergei Rachmaninoff
(1873 – 1943)
A minor Op. 3 No.2
C sharp minor Op. 33 No. 9
Variations on an Original Theme in D Major Op. 21 No.1.........Johannes Brahms
Poco larghetto
Var. I
Var. II
Piu moto
Var. III
Var. IV
Var. V
Tempo di tema
Var. VI
Piu moto
Var. VII
Andante con moto
Allegro non troppo
Var. IX
Var. X
Espressivo agitato
Var. XI
Tempo di tema, poco piu lento
Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d’Este
From Années de pèlerinage (Troisièmeannée).......................Franz Liszt
Sonata No.4 in F-Sharp Major Op. 30........................................Alexander Scriabin
Prestissimo volando
California State University, Northridge
The Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication
Department of Music
Gyeseon Choe
In her Master of Music Recital
A Student of Dr. Dmitry Rachmanov
Saturday, November12, 2011, 4:30 PM, Cypress Hall, 158
Piano Concerto in G Major,
By Maurice Ravel
Accompanied by Han Na Park