For the past few years, I’ve been doing research on how pianists in the nineteenth century improvised. My work is significant because it focuses on improvisation as a practice. A hefty amount of scholarship already exists on piano improvisation in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, largely using recordings and scores as a main source of evidence. In contrast to this, I decided to get at improvisation by looking at pedagogical materials and accounts of how pianists like Clara Schumann and Franz Liszt practiced in the everyday sense. Instead of reconstructing an improvisation as a musical “work” or as a snapshot in time, I try to get a picture of the full range of possibilities available to artists like Clara Schumann and Liszt. My research overlaps with the cognitive study of skill acquisition, with recent work on eighteenth-century partimenti and thoroughbass, and with critical improvisation studies.
I successfully defended my dissertation on June 30, 2021. The title of the dissertation is The Improvised Text: Bodily Regimes of Piano Performance in the Nineteenth Century.
You can read the introduction here.