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Postgraduate research

The wide range of staff expertise in historically informed performance issues has attracted a burgeoning cluster of postgraduate research students.

Current related postgraduate research topics:

Recent completions:

'Lewis Granom: His significance for the flute in the eighteenth century'
Helen Crown (Supervisor: David Ponsford)

An article in the London Daily Advertiser, April 6 1752 makes reference to ‘Mr. Granom, whose expression in composition can only be equalled by his fire as a performer’. This quotation testifies to the extremely high regard in which the flute player Lewis Granom was held as both composer and performer, as well as implying that he was known to the music-loving public. This contrasts markedly with the lack of mention in modern musical literature. Only Hugh Arthur Scott, in his article ‘London Concerts from 1700 to 1750’, Musical Quarterly, 24/2 (1938), 194–209 (p. 204), provides a hint of Granom’s standing in musical circles: ‘A star which rose about the same time [1719], and shone for many years afterwards, was Lewis Granom, the famous flautist, who gave a long series of concerts at Hickford’s in 1729’. This suggests that Granom should be better known, both for his compositions and for his contribution to flute pedagogy. His treatise, Plain and Easy Instructions for Playing on the German Flute (London: T. Bennett, 1766), was the first dedicated to the flute by a named English author. This thesis remedies this notable historical oversight with an examination of his life, his pedagogical work (particularly his treatise) and an analysis of his flute sonatas together with their relevant performance practice in the light of the various international influences found therein. It restores Lewis Granom to his rightful place as a significant composer and performer in the context of mid eighteenth-century English music.

Han Swarowsky's Legacy to the Art of Conducting: The Swarowsky System, A Manual of Restraint
Keith Griffiths (Supervisor: Robin Stowell)

This thesis aims to establish and demonstrate Hans Swarowsky’s legacy to the art of conducting and conducting pedagogy. The hypothesis is that Swarowsky redressed the imbalance in the conducting profession between the re-creation of the composer’s work and fidelity to the score by creating a philosophy and work process that brought discipline central to the art form, thus cultivating a new breed of conductor within a relatively immature profession. This multi-disciplinary study evaluates four principal areas of Swarowsky’s work and determines his process, and philosophy and their longevity through consultation of his scores, writings, recordings, and with his pupils.
Analysis of Swarowsky’s scores indicates that he employed a specific work process in his preparation that involved a direct connection between his annotations and the six laws of Gestalt, established in the early twentieth century. A temporal analysis of two movements of his 1958 recording of Brahms’s First Symphony and comparison with equivalent accounts by other contemporary conductors serve as a case study and provide data on his and others’ temporal trends and strategies, specifically addressing the connectivity between Swarowsky’s tempi and his Gestalt approach. The ‘Swarowsky System’ is evaluated through a theoretical model, which demonstrates its perceptual audible consequences and outlines a reason behind critics’ lasting doubts about Swarowsky’s interpretive acumen. Finally, the question of Swarowsky’s impact and legacy is investigated through a qualitative interview methodology and coding process. The investigation gathers first-hand opinions from conductors and conducting teachers who studied under Swarowsky and serves to augment the hypothesis by delineating and categorising Swarowsky’s contribution to the art of conducting.

'The Violoncello School of André Navarra'
Eduardo Fargas (Supervisor: Robin Stowell)

This dissertation seeks to answer the question of whether there is a cello-playing school today which we can attribute to the French cellist André Navarra. To do this it documents the technical aspects of cello playing which Navarra taught his pupils, through field work, interviewing several of them as to the salient aspects of Navarra’s instruction. As far as it has been possible, these topics have also been covered through video material of Navarra demonstrating a summarized version of his technical approach to the instrument, and analysis of video material of Navarra performing. To aid in ascertaining the degree to which the influence of Navarra’s instrumental approach has spread, the manifestations of said influence in his student’s publications have been examined. The situational and interpersonal characteristics of his pedagogy, especially in the context of his group teaching, were also considered. This examination determines that, to a great extent, those of Navarra’s pupils who are themselves teachers try to reproduce the group setting, and subscribe to most of the precepts established by Navarra, especially in respect of bowing. Furthermore, Navarra’s influence on the publications mentioned above is readily apparent. Portions of the dissertation examine physical principles which help explain the success of Navarra’s bowing approach, and its parallels to similar ideas by the violinist Carl Flesch, to whom Navarra acknowledged indebtedness in this regard. The manifestations of Navarra’s influence, together with the number of teachers, many now in the third student-teacher generation after Navarra, who are passing on these ideas, lead to the conclusion that the sphere of influence of Navarra’s pedagogy has been pervasive enough to refer to it as a ‘school’.

'Stylistic change in violin performance 1900-1966, with special reference to recordings of the Hungarian Violin School'
John Parsons (Supervisor: Robin Stowell)

This thesis describes and analyses stylistic change in violin performance (c. 1900-1960) by examining the so-called Hungarian violin school as an exemplar of stylistic change is this period. The thesis uses examples from both written and recorded sources to examine shifts in the use of excessive fingering, vibrato and flexibility of rhythm and tempo. The sources used include: performing editions; treatises; and recordings. In respect of the study of stylistic change, the thesis argues that recordings provide a valuable research resource for assessing the theoretical use of expressive devices, as well as the prominence, character and actual application in performance of such devices. The thesis focuses on the relationship between a player’s formal training and the cultural-aesthetic influences to which he/she was subsequently exposed, and also considers the relationship between performing theory and performing practice. Chapter one explores nineteenth-century French and German antecedents to the Hungarian school, before discussing the syllabus and pedagogy of Jenö Hubay in Budapest. The chapter concludes with a case study of the changing approaches to technique and expression of Hubay’s pupil, Jósef Szigeti. Chapters two, three and four concentrate on the expressive devices used in the performances of violinists in the twentieth century: chapter two explores fingering; chapter three concerns vibrato; and chapter four addresses rhythm and tempo.  The thesis shows that, in the case of the Hungarian school, players retained aspects of their initial training, but that other influences played a more decisive role in their evolution as mature artists. The thesis concludes by arguing that recorded sources have a vital and significant contribution to make to the field of twentieth-century performance practice.