Author Identifier


Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Performing Arts)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Geoffrey Lancaster

Second Supervisor

Stewart Smith


Within the context of professional music making, an increasing number of pianists use both modern and historical pianos as a matter of course. Yet, not infrequently, it seems that there is little awareness of how the inherent acoustic characteristics of each instrument may be used to inform interpretation, and the instrument-specific pianistic techniques that are needed if interpretation is to be optimised. This study explores issues of interpretation and performance as applied to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in Ab major, op. 110. Three different performative interpretations of the sonata are constructed, each relating to a specific grand piano––made by, respectively, Conrad Graf (1819), John Broadwood & Sons (1824), and Paolo Fazioli (2013). The interpretations are created within the context of ‘hands on’ experience with each of the pianos, and are formed through both reflective practice and—in the case of the Graf and Broadwood instruments—the investigation of historical sources that include pertinent comments regarding performance practice. For the interpretation expressed using the Fazioli piano, the study draws upon Daniel Leech-Wilkinson’s notion that fidelity to the written score is not a governing protocol, and that a performative interpretation may depart not only from the score, but also from commonly held interpretative and aesthetic pre-conceptions and expectations. Through its reflective approach to interpretation and performance, this study aims to contribute to the unveiling of meaning in Beethoven’s op. 110, and to be a catalyst for deeper interpretative insights.



Access Note

Access to this thesis is embargoed until 21st July, 2024

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