Date of Degree
Bruce C. MacIntyre
Peter J. Basquin
L. Michael Griffel
Although more or less forgotten by most musicians, Moritz Moszkowski (1854–1925) was a celebrated composer, conductor, teacher, editor, and performer. This thesis seeks to draw a thorough biographical sketch of the composer as both a man and a musician and to provide a general description of his piano transcriptions, arrangements, and paraphrases, as well as a detailed analysis of three of his virtuosic piano transcriptions. An analysis of Moszkowski's standing among his peers is also presented. His often under-appreciated achievements are documented in the musical journals of his day, including The Etude, The Musical Courier, The Musical Times, Musician, and The Musical Standard. In addition, an examination of Moszkowski's more personal effects, such as his marriage certificate and an oral history from surviving descendants, is provided. His story begins with great promise and success, both as a pianist and composer, but ends sadly in poverty and illness.
Chapter 1 presents an updated biography of Moszkowski, and Chapter 2 discusses the styles of nineteenth-century piano transcription. Chapters 3–6 offer detailed analysis of Moszkowski's transcriptional technique in three of his virtuosic piano transcriptions based on Wagner and Bizet operas: Nachkomponierte Szene zur Oper Tannhauser, Isoldens Tod: Schluss-Szene aus Tristan and Isolde, and Chanson Boheme de l'Opera Carmen de Georges Bizet. These analyses reveal the idiosyncratic and typical facets of his transcriptional technique. Moszkowski's strategic decisions about what to include or exclude, highlight or de-emphasize were balanced by a sense of musical proportion with a clear understanding of pianistic practicalities and limitations. Furthermore, Moszkowski's deep respect for the composer whose work he is transcribing is shown by the great lengths to which he goes to disguise his own musical insertions.
In order to compare and contrast differences in transcriptional style and place Moszkowski's transcriptional oeuvre in perspective, comparable works by other composers such as Liszt, Busoni, Godowsky, von Bulow, and Tausig are also examined. Although Moszkowski's transcriptions never reach the flamboyant heights of Liszt or Tausig, they do not belong in the realm of artless arrangements. Instead, his works demonstrate a sense of refinement and musical sophistication with a dose of panache.
Hodos, Gilya, "Transcriptions, Paraphrases, and Arrangements: The Compositional Art of Moritz Moszkowski" (2004). CUNY Academic Works.