Date of Award

2013

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

Faculty

Education and Arts

First Advisor

Dr Jonathan Paget

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Cat Hope

Abstract

This exegetical critique makes a conceptual summation of Ronald Stevenson’s life’s work for the piano and his contributions as a composer‐pianist. Chapters one and two provide a profile of Stevenson as a pianist, examining the aesthetic and musical concerns that defined his long career, as well as precedents and antecedents of his pianism. Of particular interest are the ways that Stevenson coalesces aspects of the ‘grand manner’ and his obsession with a pianistic bel canto style. Chapter three examines Stevenson’s remarkable output in terms of piano transcriptions. His conceptualization of this as ‘capturing the essence’ of the original composer is used to mount a defense of this erstwhile unfashionable genre, examining the ways that Stevenson’s output blurs the line between transcription and composition. Chapter four offers a detailed examination of the art of pedalling in Stevenson’s own work, particularly the use of the sostenuto pedal, and the ways that he exploited more complex forms of combination pedalling in his compositions and transcriptions.

Chapter five examines the ways that Stevenson’s works abound with socio‐political referencing and historical allusions, with particular attention to the Passacaglia on DSCH—a work that constituted such a political provocative act that it resulted in a police raid. Chapter six further interrogates aspects of the Passacaglia, its embodiment of the miniature and the monumental, and the ways that it personifies the culmination and summation of Stevenson as both a pianist and composer.