Michael Kieran Harvey

Research area: 21st century composer/pianist’s interpretation and composition of virtuoso piano repertoire and the classical music concert tradition.

My research argues that the interpretation of concert music is a hermeneutic process based on continuity, deviation and originality.

This hermeneutic process is applicable to performances involving the adherence to the original work, radical deviation from the original work or the proposing of a new alternative to the original work.

The classical concert music tradition identifies with the canon of works most of which is based on repertoire from 1750 to the 1940s. This traditional repertoire is based on virtuosity and interpretation.

However, interpretation has been codified by certain restrictions, where any deviation from the commonly held view about the performance of classical music can be considered unacceptable by the musical establishment.

This creates a problem for the composer/pianist in the 21st century who engages with the classical concert music tradition. While the classical tradition was developed by composer/pianists such as Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Busoni and Bartók, composer/pianists in the late 20th century and early 21st century are required to recreate the works from these masters but not contribute their own creative works to the classical Performance tradition.

The thesis examines writings by composer/pianists, theorists, philosophers and critics in order to contextualise the classical concert tradition within a sociology and history-of-music framework.

It discusses the problem the classical concert tradition creates for the 21st century composer/pianist within the context of an aporia (an unsolvable problem). The author proposes a hermeneutic methodology as a way of resolving the aporia.