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ABSTRACT

Transcriptions of works of J. S. Bach by Russian/Soviet pianists: a stylistic overview through an analysis of score markings.

Many Russian and Soviet musicians have turned to creating piano transcriptions of works by J. S. Bach, forming a tradition that has lasted from at least 1844 to the current day. Approaches to Bach interpretation and to the genre of the piano transcription have changed over the years, encompassing a range of approaches such as the Romantic and the authentic styles. This study analyses the Russian/Soviet transcribers’ choice of score indications, and uses this lens to observe their stylistic influences. As a result, it becomes evident that the later transcribers took a more reserved and scholarly approach to their Bach interpretations, whereas the earlier transcribers adhered to the Romantic methods of expression typical of their era. The transcribers examined exemplify the Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev schools of piano playing. Although there are no obvious differences between their transcription approaches, such a grouping allows to observe the preferences of individual teachers, and demonstrates the Russian/Soviet school’s stylistic eclecticism, encompassing various European, and in some case folk and socialist realism tendencies. While the Bach transcriptions of Liszt and Busoni are well known by performers and scholars alike, very few people are aware of the contribution the representatives of the Russian Piano School have made to this field. This thesis not only makes a theoretical analysis of the transcriptions, but also includes a list of known works in the genre, presenting transcribers ranging from neglected pianists such as Alexandr Nemerovsky and Igor Ilyin to the more well-known Sergei Rachmaninov and Tatiana Nikolaeva.