Piano-Playing Styles of the Nineteenth Century - Day Two

Piano-Playing Styles of the Nineteenth Century - Day Two

Guest Artists

Date and time
05 Feb 2024 (10:00am - 9:00pm)

Recital Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

200 Jennens Road, B4 7XR


£20 day ticket 

£10 (£8 over 60s, Under 18s free with an accompanying adult) Ursula Monberg and Steven Devine RECITAL ONLY

£55 conference pass 

Booking Information


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Lecture recital in RBC's Recital Hall
  • 10am Neal Peres da Costa (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
  • 11.30am Break
  • 12pm Briony Cox-Williams (Royal Academy of Music)
  • 1pm Lunch
  • 2pm Emily Worthington (Clarinet, University of York) and Laura Granero (Piano, MDV, Vienna)
  • 3.30pm Break
  • 4pm Ella Fallon (TU Dublin Conservatoire)
  • 4.30pm Camilla Köhnken (Vienna/Bern Academy of the Arts (HKB))
  • 5.30pm Break
  • 6pm Ursula Monberg (Natural Horn) and Steven Devine (Keyboard)

As part of Piano-Playing styles of the Nineteenth Century

10am Neal Peres da Costa (Sydney Conservatorium of Music)

Keynote Speaker and Conference Guest Artist in Residence. Reinecke and Mozart.

12.00pm Briony Cox-Williams (Royal Academy of Music)

Reconstructing the Performance Aesthetic of Una Bourne 

Una Bourne (1882-1974) was an Australian pianist and composer with a career that spanned both hemispheres and many decades. Already active in Australia at a young age before the turn of the century, she arrived in Europe in 1905. Reviews were good both of her live concerts and, later, of the many recordings she made – she was a pioneering recording artist, starting a thirteen year relationship with HMV in 1914, when she recorded two of her own pieces. Her catalogue would grow to over 80 sides. 

Bourne is rather dismissed in modern reviews. The overview on Naxos labels her “competent, but no virtuoso”, and takes exception to her choice of “popular encores and lighter classics”. Her recorded repertoire ranges from her own compositions to the Grieg sonata and transcriptions of Wagner; she also made the first-ever (shortened) recording of the Kreutzer sonata in 1918 with violinist Marjorie Hayward. 

Bourne’s recordings highlight an extraordinary pianist and musician. This paper looks at both her solo recordings and those she made with Hayward, all between 1914 and 1927. It explores her choice of repertoire, as well as asking questions of the performance decisions, for example, pedalling, voicing and phrasing. How did Bourne’s artistic choices in live performance, often evident through reviews, make her an obvious candidate for the new recording technology?

2pm Emily Worthington (Clarinet, University of York) and Laura Granero (Piano, MDV, Vienna)

Two Heavenly Messengers: Fanny Davies & Richard Mühlfeld

Fanny Davies (1861-1934) was one of the most celebrated English pianists towards the turn of the 20th century. Born in Guernsey in 1861, she moved at an early age to Birmingham, which she considered her “native town”. Later she went to study in Germany with some of the most important exponents of the so-called German conservative school, Carl Reinecke and Clara Schumann. She was also given the possibility of meeting Johannes Brahms and closely working with him.

Regarded as “a personal messenger for Schumann and Brahms”, Davies’ recordings and written documents are fundamental when studying the performing practices around these two composers. With this lecture-recital, we aim to explore her style of interpretation and her collaboration with the clarinetist Richard Mühlfeld (1856–1907), a central member of Brahms’s circle. For the first part of this lecture-recital, the study of Davies’ recording of the Davidsbündler inspired Laura’s interpretation. Davies’ recording will be contextualised by comparing it with those of other pianists born in the 19th century.

Between 1892 and 1907, Davies collaborated in at least 15 concerts with Mühlfeld, principal clarinetist of the Meiningen Hofkapelle and the inspiration for Johannes Brahms’s chamber works with clarinet. Upon Mühlfeld’s untimely death in May 1907, Davies wrote: ‘We will never meet one of his kind again. You cannot imagine how we all mourn the terrible loss; we loved him eternally. – There is a great feast of music up in heaven: Brahms has just written some music and now he needs his Mühlfeld. He was too good to remain on earth.’ (Goltz and Müller, 2007: 113).

The scores Davies and Mühlfeld used for early performances of the Sonatas Op.120 and Trio Op.114, preserved in the Royal College of Music library, feature a range of working annotations that offer a tantalising clue to their rehearsal process. The clarinets used for this performance are a direct copy of Mühlfeld’s own 1875 Baermann-Ottensteiner instruments, now held in the Meiningen Museum. The stylistic approach is informed by Emily’s ongoing research into 19th century performance practices as conveyed by the writings and works of the clarinetist Carl Baermann (1811–1885), the designer of Mühlfeld’s instruments, with a particular focus on extra-musical references, declamatory style, and how rubato may be encoded in articulation and phrasing marks. Princess Marie-Elisabeth von Sachsen-Meiningen’s Romance was performed by Davies and Mühlfeld in 1895.

  • R Schumann Davidsbündler Op.6 (Selection) (1837)
  • von Sachsen-Meiningen - Romanze in F Major (1892)
  • Brahms Sonata Op.120 No.1 in F minor (1894)

4pm Ella Fallon (TU Dublin Conservatoire)

‘I am essentially of the romantic school’: tempo flexibility and dislocation in Cécile Chaminade’s performances of Automne

Cécile Chaminade (1857–1944) was a prolific French composer and pianist who published approximately four hundred works. Half of her oeuvre consisted of solo piano compositions that were popularised through their publications, performances and recordings. As the first female composer awarded an admission to the Legion of Honour in France alongside continued admiration by Queen Victoria, she enjoyed an international career as a concert pianist for five decades, during which she toured throughout Europe and America performing her own compositions.

Given her extensive concertising from 1877 onwards, there are numerous sources which allude to her performance style including her scores, her own writings, and reviews of her concerts. However, more concrete evidence of her style lies in her recordings (gramophone discs and Duo-Art piano rolls) dating from 1901–1924 which extends her romantic pianism into the early twentieth century. Among the piano rolls was her beloved concert étude, Automne, first published in 1886 and later recorded c.1922 for the Aeolian Company’s Duo-Art reproducing piano. 

Through a combination of these sources, this paper will explore elements of Chaminade’s performance style as revealed through Automne, focusing primarily on tempo flexibility and dislocation. I will explore her interpretation of the work by considering the published score, an article she wrote for The Etude (1930), and her Duo-Art roll, utilising a reliable transfer and Sonic Visualiser. This approach allows for a fascinating evaluation of the extent to which Chaminade’s pianism lies within the romantic piano tradition of the late-nineteenth century.

4.30pm Camilla Köhnken (Vienna/Bern Academy of the Arts (HKB))

Josef Weiss’s interpretation strategies: eccentric individualism or representative strategies?

A rich corpus of piano rolls and acoustical recordings bear witness to the forgotten Hungarian Liszt student Josef Weiss (1864– 1945) piano interpretation. Still mere fragments of his career and life are known that seem like a succession of scandals and misfortunes, often owed to his complicated personality but also—towards the end of his life—to the persecution by the National Socialists.

Up until now, he has mainly been considered as one of the more obscure Liszt student. His Liszt recordings, namely of two Hungarian Rhapsodies and the b minor sonata (which resurfaced in 2016), count among the recordings best known. Among his impressive recording output count however also numerous performances of music by Johannes Brahms: Weiss based his piano career specifically on being a Brahms specialist, especially in his American tours during the years 1899–1900. Several contemporary accounts—for instance by Alma Mahler-Werfel or Ern. Dohnanyi—relay the impressive effect his playing often yielded.

In this presentation, three particularly interesting recordings by Josef Weiss will be analysed: the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata Op.57 “Appassionata”, the Andante of Brahms’s Sonata No.3 in F minor, and sections of Liszt’s B minor sonata. Characteristic interpretation strategies in key moments of the pieces like tempo shaping, rhythmic articulation as well as dynamics and pedal (where possible) will be contextualized with recordings by other contemporary performers of this repertoire - Eugen d’Albert, Frederic Lamond, Arthur Friedheim, and Etelka Freund. Special attention will be paid to the enormous range in speed, shades, and placements of arpeggios where Josef Weiss exhibits a stunning artistry.

An embodiment of Weiss’ Brahms Lied transcriptions (“Oh Du meine K.nigin” and “Meine Liebe ist grün”) on the 1870s Bösendorfer will conclude the presentation.

6pm Ursula Monberg (Natural Horn) and Steven Devine (Keyboard).

Book for this recital only here.

  • Beethoven Sonata for fortepiano with horn Op.17
  • Haydn Sonata in E minor 
  • Schubert Ave Maria & Die Forelle arr. Jacques-François Gallay
  • Haydn Adagio
  • Steup Sonate in E flat major, Op. 11

Born in Aalborg, Denmark in 1982 Ursula Paludan Monberg was thrown into the world of classical music from the very beginning. Spending much of her childhood under pianos in her mother’s singing lessons or listening to choir rehearsals in the Parish church, the sound of the voice has always been the source of inspiration for her music making.

Ursula was the first student to take a Bachelor’s degree at Guildhall School of Music and Drama with natural horn as her first study. Professor Andrew Clark wrote a completely new syllabus for the instrument and through his very high standards inspired a practice regime and desire for excellence that allows the control of the instrument needed for this repertoire.

From 2007-2013 Ursula held the position as principal horn for Concerto Copenhagen and during these years she had the added opportunity of completing the soloist class at the Royal Danish Academy of Music. Under the direction of Lars-Ulrik Mortensen she made her debut as a soloist with Concerto Copenhagen in 2010 with a tour of Denmark playing concerti by Quantz, Graun and Haydn.

In 2012 Ursula was appointed principal horn for The English Concert following two high profile performances (at the Royal Albert Hall (BBC Proms) and St Thomas’, Leipzig) of Bach’s b minor mass, with its demanding solo obligato part for the instrument. This is a piece she has performed many times and indeed she has recorded it to critical acclaim for Arcangelo on Hyperion.

In Februrary 2020 Ursula’s first solo disc ‘The Early Horn’ with Arcangelo and Jonathan Cohen was released on Hyperion.

‘Monberg is demonstrably a master of the instrument.’Gramophone

‘The Danish horn player Ursula Paludan Monberg, thoroughly in command of her instrument, produces a miraculously smooth and agile line with secure tuning.’ BBC Music Magazine

Steven Devine combines a career as a conductor and director of orchestral, choral and opera repertoire with that of a solo harpsichordist and fortepianist. He is Conductor and Artistic Advisor of The English Haydn Festival; Music Director of New Chamber Opera, Oxford and Director of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s “Bach the Universe & Everything” series.

On the concert platform he has directed Purcell, Blow, Bach, Handel and Mozart with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Bach Easter Oratorio with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; Haydn, Handel, CPE Bach, JC Bach, Ditterdorf and Viotti with the English Haydn Orchestra; Handel, Vivaldi and Porpora with Ann Hallenberg and Trondheim Barokk; Bach Christmas Oratorio with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble; Handel Solomon with Victoria Baroque Players, British Columbia and Handel Music for the Royal Fireworks with Arion Baroque Ensemble, Montreal; He has also directed programmes with the Academy of Ancient Music, Academie d’Ambronay, the Mozart Festival Orchestra and St Paul’s Chamber Orchestra,

Devine’s opera repertoire includes works by Purcell, Cavalli, Handel, Haydn and Mozart as well as rarities by Galuppi, Salieri and Cimarosa. His recordings include Dido & Aeneas with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Sarah Connolly in the title role.

As a keyboard player, he is the Principal Keyboard Player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and also the principal keyboard player for The Gonzaga Band, The Mozartists and performs regularly with many other groups around Europe. He has recorded over thirty discs with other artists and ensembles and made many solo recordings. His recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Chandos Records) has received critical acclaim – including Gramophone magazine describing it as “among the best”. The complete harpsichord works of Rameau (Resonus) has received five-star reviews from BBC Music Magazine. Steven has recently released Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (“it’s the one of all I’ve heard in the past ten years that I am happiest to live with.” Early Music Review). He is currently engaged in recording the complete harpsichord works of Johann Ludwig Krebs, Bach’s favourite student.

Steven Devine was educated at Chetham’s School of Music before reading Music at St Peter’s College, Oxford. He was Director of Opera Restor’d from 2002-2010 and Kurator and Conductor of the Norwegian Wind Ensemble from 2016-2018.

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