Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Jan Radzynski's Canto (1981): An Introductory View of Its Genre, Style, and Form, with Suggestions for Performance
by Yoon, Jiung, D.M.A., The Ohio State University, 2012, 93; 10631475
Abstract (Summary)

Canto (1981) is the first composition written for piano by Jan Radzynski (b.1950). This instrument is clearly important to this composer's output; and in focusing on Canto, the present document will give a perspective on Radzynski's diverse compositional style and a view of the piano's contemporary possibilities as one composer saw them in the early 1980s. Though it is an early piece in the career of its composer, Canto is already highly original in style and structure. It is also diverse, both old and new in its sounds and influences. The composer informs us that Canto had many influences and contains many references to other music and to other traditions. It is written in a musical language that is clearly atonal, and in a basically through-composed form, yet the composer has said that his piece alludes specifically to Medieval, Renaissance, and contemporary minimalist techniques and to established traditions of piano performance. Therefore the piece gives rich opportunities for discussion and analysis, more than its playing time of ten minutes could suggest.

Radzynski's title, meaning "song," might be a paradox because the piano is not innately vocal in its sounds, in short it is not by nature a singing instrument. Perhaps with this title, Radzynski has made some kind of connection with Chopin, a composer who also wrote "singing" pieces for the piano under the strong influence of bel canto music. Unlike Chopin, however, Radzynski's "song" for piano is textured in a way that usually prevents any songlike lines from being heard as songlike, or even heard at all. Much of the writing refers to the tone cluster sounds and "barbaric" rhythm vocabulary of early 20th-century modernists. At the same time, Radzynski's early piano work certainly shows a poetic and fulfilling approach to the keyboard, and this will be quickly discovered by any pianist who takes up Canto .

Canto poses extensive performance challenges regarding form, timing, fingering, and other issues of idiomatic piano writing. But the composer's true musicality means that the process of learning, addressing, and performing this piece is a fulfilling and rewarding process. Clearly, Canto is not a dogmatic or doctrinaire piece of music and it is rich enough for different kinds of discussion and to let interpreters come to different conclusions. This document offers many ideas on performance and preparation for performance, but the author also hopes to make it clear that there is no one specific way such an imaginative, varied, and allusive composition should be interpreted—by the performer, or by the analyst and music scholar.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Glaser, Steven
Commitee: Boone, Graeme, Suspitsyna, Tatiana, Wells, Thomas
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Canto, Radzynski, Jan, Solo piano
Publication Number: 10631475
ISBN: 9780355016970
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