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Romanticizing Brahms: Early Recordings and the Reconstruction of Brahmsian Identity.

Anna Scott is a Canadian pianist-researcher interested in using the early twentieth century recordings of the Brahms circle of pianists to question persistent gaps between the loci of knowledge, ethics, and act in both modern mainstream and historically-informed performances of Brahms’s late piano works.

Anna Scott
11 December 2014
Full text available in Leiden Repository

Far from advocating more historically authentic performances, Anna’s 'off-the-record' experiments are intended to both elucidate and disturb modern constructions of Brahms’s Classical canonic identity and its nearly immovable set of associated performance norms by encouraging the emergence of the corporeal and psychological conundrums more typically associated with Romantic pianism. Anna Scott, in her thesis, critically reappraises documentary evidence of Brahms's musical contexts; analyses and exactly copies the early recordings of pianists in his inner circle; and experimentally extrapolates those pianists' styles across other works in his late piano opuses. In so doing, Anna has proposed a radical recordings-inspired style of Brahms performance that reveals current notions of Brahmsian identity, along with its associated performance mores, as highly context-specific, malleable, and perhaps even disposable.

Supervising team

  • Prof. Frans de Ruiter - 1st promotor - Universiteit Leiden 
  • Prof. Dr. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson - 2nd promotor - King’s College London 
  • Dr. Bruce Haynes †
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