ABSTRACT

This chapter proposes a comparative analysis of 23 performances of Franz Liszt’s most highly-regarded piano work, the Sonata in B Minor S. 178, recorded by 21 internationally renowned pianists, divided into four schools of playing. Among other things, it considers the different topics found in the work, their relationships and their influence on performances. An in-depth comparative analysis of these performances of the sonata was conducted for the purpose of identifying characteristic features of the playing styles of each respective national school and tracking whether and how they were passed down to the following generations. This ultimately demonstrates the existence of performing traditions within national schools. Seven parameters were singled out to characterise the main differences between the performances of the sonata: the tempo, the agogics, the nuances, the phrasing, the pedal work, dynamic evolution and the choice of climax, and the touch.