Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Since the middle of the twentieth century, the study of performance practice has increasingly drawn the interest of musicologists; however, despite the extensive documentation pertaining to matters of performance, the twentieth century has largely been neglected. Twentieth-century composers often annotated their scores extensively with indications of tempi, dynamics, and phrasing or included explanatory notes with detailed instructions. Supplemental records, such as diaries, transcripts of coaching sessions, and composers’ commentaries on interpretative issues further shed light on their intentions. Yet a piece is not shaped just by the score and the comments of the composer; rather, it exists diachronically, evolving over time as it is performed. Thanks to the rapid development of the recording industry, the twentieth century is the first century for which documentation of this process exists in the form of recordings, partial aural records of the performance history of a piece. Recent studies have tried to demonstrate how recordings, especially those supervised by the composer, can suggest or clarify musical decisions in future performances of a piece. The studies have not, however, answered the question whether the recording history of twentieth-century pieces shows the emergence of performance trends. Focusing on the recording history of three seminal pieces of the twentieth-century repertoire—Arnold Schoenberg’s Fourth String Quartet, John Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes, and Berio’s _Sequenza III_—this dissertation examines how trends in performance practice emerge in the recording history of twentieth-century pieces. It investigates whether a certain performance practice is traceable from one recording to the next; whether certain trends are more prevalent at one time than another; and whether, despite the detailed annotations and primary source material available, recordings show a variety of interpretations rather than the emergence of one standard performance practice.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Herlinger, Jan



Included in

Music Commons