A performer's guide to Benjamin Lees's "Six Ornamental Etudes" for piano
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This dissertation analyzes Six Ornamental Etudes for piano by Benjamin Lees from a performer's perspective. Chapter 1 covers general procedures for this research, including basic assumptions and need for the study, purpose of the study, limitation of scope, review of related literature, procedure for collecting data, and an overview of the following chapters. Chapter 2 offers Lee's biographical and stylistic summary, in which are included a concise biography, awards and commissions he received in conjunction with his works, compositional philosophy, influences in formulating his style, and a general perspective of his music. Finally, a brief introduction to all of Lees's published piano works concludes this chapter. Chapter 3, as the core of this research, analyzes each etude, with respect to stylistic features and performance considerations. Salient traits found in these etudes include well-defined sectional division, motivic development, the establishment of tonal centers instead of conventional tonality, chromatic inflection, a variety of rhythmic elaborations, frequent changes of meter, a spectrum of tonal practice, ornamentation through figurations, textural, dynamic, and registral contrasts, meticulous articulation, and percussive treatment of the piano. Based on these features, practical performance suggestions are provided, covering aspects of musicality and technique, including voicing, phrasing, rubato , proper and effective expression of dynamics and articulation, practical solutions for technical difficulties, and pedaling. Chapter 4 summarizes the examination of the preceding chapters and provides recommendation for further study connected to this research. As Benjamin Lees's Six Ornamental Etudes presents both a variety of stylistic features integrating past and modern practices and several remarkable pianistic qualities at a moderate difficulty level, this set may be regarded as one of the most exemplary accessible twentieth-century American piano works.