The Art of Composition

Recorded five-minute presentations for the Undergraduate Scholarly Showcase in Category G: The Art of Composition, Projects G-01 through G14.

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G-01: A Comparison and Analysis of Beethoven's Piano Sonatas in the Early and Middle Period

Zhouyang Shao, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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I will take two sonatas (Op.10 No.3 in D major & Op.53 in C major "Waldstein") as examples to show the different characteristics of Beethoven's early and middle sonatas. This will include the comparison of musical structure, the development of some composing techniques and the change of work style. I will explain these changes through some brief analysis, and show these differences with more specific phrase or sections in the music.


G-02: Analysis of Beethoven Piano Sonatas in Different Phases

Huatianyuan Huang, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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Ludwig van Beethoven was a great German composer. He was born in 1770 and died in 1827. Beethoven composed a large number of important works. His works span from the classical period to the romantic period. Among his works, his thirty-two piano sonatas are very representative. These piano sonatas present Beethoven's compositional styles and characteristics and his perception of music and life at different phases. Beethoven's sonatas can be divided into three periods: the early phase, up to 1802; the middle phase, 1802-1815; and the late phase, 1815-1827. Beethoven has different characteristics and styles in each phase. This presentation will analyze these three phases and compare them in order to understand Beethoven's piano sonatas better.


G-03: Beethoven's Early vs. Late Piano Works

Lisa Li, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andrew Villemez
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Throughout Beethoven's lifetime, he grew tremendously as a composer. Unfortunately, he became completely deaf. Since he became deaf and still continued to compose, there must be a difference in his music. To accurately compare his earlier works from his later works, this presentation will specifically focus on two of his piano sonatas. Before he became deaf, his works included a wider range of notes, especially higher ones, since he could still hear them. When he became completely deaf, he made use of more bass notes, since they vibrate more. He was gifted a Broadwood piano by Thomas Broadwood which he used and loved because it was much louder than the other pianos at the time. Although having that special piano helped a bit, he still had to compose without hearing anything. The texture and harmonies were also affected.


G-04: Beethoven's Spirit of Spontaneity and Improvisation: Impact on Performance Practice

Catharine Baek, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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A common perception of Beethoven includes severe reverence for his compositional ability despite his degenerative hearing loss. In this desire of high regard of the beloved composer, one may forget that Beethoven was primarily known as an impassioned performer and improviser in his time. Many contemporaries of Beethoven argue that the performances of his improvisations were better than those of his own compositions. The raw, emotional power of Beethoven's playing stuck with audiences and his reputation as a performer preceded his success as a composer, as his compositions were thought as ahead of his time.  Keyboard performance practice in the time of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century celebrated the abilities of improvisation in many forms. Common examples are cadenzas, eingang and durschgang (improvised embellishments employed during fermatas), added flourishes in sections of repeated musical material, extending works with additional development, and even re-harmonizing works during performance. Beethoven utilized these techniques and took more liberties in tempo, changed notes he had written, and often sacrificed accuracy for emotional expression.

In this spirit of this extemporaneous music making, performers of Beethoven's works can choose to adopt a looser approach to interpreting his music. A performer can take more liberties and perform with more of the embrace we see with approaches to improvisation in Mozart's and Haydn's works. In the presentation, we will look at an example in the second movement of Beethoven's Sonata Op. 31 No. 1 in G Major and how one can embrace the improvisatory and casual nature of Beethoven's performance.


G-05: Comparison of Early and Middle Period Beethoven Sonatas

Larissa Chen, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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I am going to compare the early Beethoven sonata, Op.2 no.3 in C major, to the middle period sonata, Op.57 Appassionata. The things that I would talk about between the two pieces, are the different structure of movements, compositional development, the stylistic change between them, the use of pedal, and the thematic and motivic development.


G-06: Comparison of Early and Middle-period Beethoven Piano Sonata

Bonhwi Kim, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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I am going to compare early and middle-period Beethoven Piano sonata. In order to compare, I am going to analyze Beethoven Piano sonata Op.2 no.2 and Op.57 No. 23 "Appassionata" and look at the differences in forms, movement structure, thematic/motive development, structure, compositional development, stylistic changes, and pedalings.


G-07: Hilarity in Haydn: Exploring Humor in Haydn's Piano Sonata in C Major Hob. XVI/50 Mvt. 3

Emily Foster, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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Humor is a hallmark of Joseph Haydn's music. From the startling chords in the second movement of the "Surprise" Symphony to the false ending of the String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 33 No. 2 (aptly nicknamed "The Joke"), wit and laughter pervade Haydn's output. But what is it about Haydn's music that strikes listeners as funny? What musical devices does Haydn use to create humor? Finally, how can performers apply their knowledge of Haydn's humor to their interpretations of his music?

I have attempted to answer these questions through analysis of the third movement of Haydn's Piano Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI/50. Lively, homophonic, and featuring a charming melody, this movement is in many ways quintessential Haydn. Despite its short length, it demonstrates Haydn's ability to infuse even the simplest musical ideas with wit. In my presentation, I will show how Haydn uses phrase-length, harmony, and even silence to construct this humorous movement-and explore how pianists might enhance this humor through phrasing, voicing, and timing. 


G-08: How Beethoven Emulates an Ensemble in his Fifth Piano Sonata

Gavin Davis, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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This presentation will demonstrate and analyze Beethoven emulates ensemble writing in op. 10 no. 1 by looking at his use of texture, dynamics, contrast, range, and timbre throughout the piece. Beethoven published this sonata in 1798 alongside his three op. 9 string trios. Still concretely in Beethoven's early period, this sonata features a symphonic sound with its expansive opening chords and its quick shifts in dynamic. By implementing a high amount of contrast paired with drastic shifts of range, Beethoven is able to imply a dialogue between instruments. For example, the opening theme employs fully-voiced forte chords to resemble the expansive sound of an orchestral tutti before he quickly reduces the texture to four-note voicings with a piano dynamic. This dramatic amount of contrast and range also implies a difference in distance, as the opening chords and rocket themes have such a wide range, while the response is so small and closed, as if from a smaller group of instruments playing from further away. Beethoven also uses changes of texture and compositional style to separate themes. While the opening is clearly symphonic in nature, the second theme is a strict four-voice texture akin to a string quartet. Throughout op. 10 no. 1, Beethoven employs a great deal of contrast in his texture, range, and dynamics in order to emulate the various instruments of an orchestra or string quartet.


G-09: L. v. Beethoven's Piano Sonatas

Yilin Du, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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This presentation is about L. v. Beethoven, and how his compositional creativity develops from his early piano sonatas to his middle piano sonatas. Beethoven's early piano sonatas show influences of Haydn, the op2 follows the traditional way of composing a sonata in terms of structure and harmony. Beethoven later composed the op10, op13, all of them followed the tradition of composing a sonata. In the op14, there are elements of quartets which are influenced by Haydn. Starting from op22, Beethoven starts to show the elements of his middle period writing, Beethoven started to focus more on the developments of the rhythmic motives instead of melodic ones, and he gradually put more and more emphasis on the last movement. The op26 to op28 is like an exploring period, Beethoven stared to try out new approaches, the op26 starts with a variation, and the op27 has fantasy like first movements. As Beethoven moves into his middle period, he really explored many new ways to compose. In the op53 and op57, both of the works have virtuosic codas in the end, creating the glorious sounds. The demands for pianists are very high too. In the op81, Beethoven actually give names to each of the three movements, departure, absent, and reunion. The op78 and op90 are in two movements and have some of the most lyrical writing in them. It is not hard to see that Beethoven had more creativity in his middle period piano sonatas than his early period piano sonatas.


G-10: Mozart Operatic Characteristics in His Piano Works

Chuwen Wang, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prolific Austrian composer in the Classical period. Mozart's music is typical classical music. During that time when he composed, there was a style popular around called Galant style which appeared from the late Baroque period. This appears in visual arts and literature; however, it refers to a return to simplicity in music which means sound elegant and short. Simple song-like melodies and periodic phrases. Mozart used the Galant style in his music to present a traditional Classical period. In addition, his operas are also very famous, and they are still very famous today. Usually, operas are conversational in nature, it can be a question followed by an answer, and interactive. That's the essence of opera. Therefore, Mozart exerted the operatic characteristics in his piano work to create different characters and enliven and effect his piano compositions as well. Overall, this presentation will display and talk about how Mozart uses his operatic techniques and characteristics in his piano works.


G-11: Mozart: Visions of the Future in Music

John-Austin King, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andrew Villimez
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Positioned at the zenith of the classical music pantheon,Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's legacy has hardly faced any challenge or contention over the last few centuries.His name is unanimous and synonymous with music itself,and his music's universality has attracted audiences from everywhere. Despite this, I have often found that Mozart has a reputation as old fashioned,gridlocked in classical forms, and backward-looking among both musicians and non-musicians. I think that a closer look into the more obscure piano works of Mozart would dispel these notions altogether. The fantasies that he composed,filled with profound emotion, often painfully forlorn and brooding, would predict trends in music that would not begin until decades after his death. Of course, many of his operas do this as well, but the keyboard pieces that he composed cannot be overlooked. They offer a masterclass in invention and innovation--just not in the way that one might expect,like in the roaring and crashing "Hammerklavier" sonata of Ludwig Van Beethoven. Just as in his operas, Mozart's keyboard music seems to grasp for something beyond his time, something that would not be realized by other composers for decades to come.


G-12: Reverse Engineering Metronome Marks Based off a Composer's Future Output

Paul Rosenberger, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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Descriptive terms such as "Allegro, "Adagio," and "Andante" are used to represent tempo in music outside of metronome markings. These terms have little apparent foundation in strict, measured time and would appear to be subjective interpretations left up to the performer. However, even with such general terms, there is usually consistency in tempo across different interpretations of the same piece as well as in different pieces by the same composer. This presentation will create metronome marks for each movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 2, No. 3 based off metronome data from his later pieces written after the creation of the metronome. The terms we will analyze are "Allegro con brio" ("fast with spirit," first movement), "Adagio" ("slowly," second movement), "Allegro" ("fast," third movement), and "Allegro assai" ("very fast," fourth movement). We will look at many of Beethoven's pieces written originally with metronome marks and these four tempo descriptions and compare the metronome ranges of each. We will also analyze the felt "pulse" of the sonata and make educated guesses as performers as to how our metronome marks should be applied to the work. For example, averaging the speed from several of Beethoven's works marked with both "Allegro con brio" and his original metronome marks gives us around 81 beats per minute per pulse, consistent with numerous interpretations of the opening movement of this sonata.


G-13: The Romantic Factors in Beethoven's Piano Sonatas

Yuxiao Kang, Piano Performance
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most important representatives of the Viennese School in Classical music. Beethoven is definitely a great composer who created the precedent of romantic classical music. Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas are the so-called "New Testament" in the field of piano music. In detail, Beethoven's piano sonatas comply with the music rules established by Haydn and Mozart. At the same time, he was also unique to create a new romantic style and combine classical music with the emotional expression of romanticism at the time. It also proves the significant influence of Beethoven on West music history in the 19th century. This presentation focuses on the perspective of compositional techniques and the innovation of Beethoven's piano music. Beethoven's piano sonatas are full of romantic elements, which benefit from his rich creativity, imagination, and sensitive emotional world. His music is sometimes free and unrestrained, sometimes implicit and introverted, sometimes enthusiastic, Sometimes gentle and elegant. Through analyzing Beethoven's music will not be helpful for the audience to perceive more affection resonance from his piano music, however, it will help the audience to deeply understand Beethoven's musical thoughts and artistic inspiration. In order to figure out the clue of being the bridge between Classicism and Romanticism in Beethoven's music, we have to analyze the romantic factors presented in Beethoven's piano sonatas, and how he made the way to achieve the dramaticism of expression in the classical sonata scheme.


G-14: The Reasons for The Change of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in The Early, Middle, and Late Periods

Xinyi Zhang, Piano
Project Advisor: Dr. Andy Villemez
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Ludwig van Beethoven was a famous German composer, pianist, and conductor. He was also one of the  representatives of the Viennese classical music school, and his works had a profound impact on the development of  music. Among them, his 35 piano sonatas (the last 32 of which are numbered) have made great contributions to  classical music and have been studied by many scholars. Moreover, Beethoven's life music creation is divided into  three stages, that is, the early period, the middle period, the late period. In these three periods, Beethoven's piano  sonata style also has certain style differences. First, Beethoven's early period sonatas were mainly influenced by his  predecessors J.S. Bach, F.J. Haydn, and his teacher W.A. Mozart. Then, the style of the middle period sonata was  influenced by the European Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, and "heroism" entered Beethoven's  consciousness. At that time, Beethoven tried hard to explore and expand the expression of the sonata, and at the  same time, he innovated and developed in many ways, and also formed his own style characteristics. Finally, the late  period of Beethoven's piano sonata creation was the darkest period on the European continent, and Beethoven was  experiencing difficulties such as ear disease and mental crisis. As a result, he began to change from a heroic style in  the middle period to a more free and philosophical style in the later period, and the content he expressed was full of  more complex feelings and wills.