Studying the interpretative art of Dinu Lipatti

Chiaying Bella Tang

This PhD project explores the art of Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950) as an important aesthetic model and point of reference and study for modern pianists.

I aim at an artistic statement about how a performer negotiates their relationship to tradition. Starting with my experience of Lipatti and the historical reception of his work, I try to describe his aesthetic in a personal way. Then, going through a trial and error process at the piano, mixing objective facts and subjective descriptions of Lipatti’s art, I gain my own close understanding of how the rhythmic aspects, articulation of phrases, pianistic means, physical mechanism and fingerings work.

Dinu Lipatti's annotated score of Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand | Image Credit: Mark Ainley

Having assimilated this, I also search for metaphors, images and stimuli that would generate responses in my body with the goal of producing the kind of sound that I have described. In other words, having rationalized constituent elements of Lipatti’s piano playing, the ultimate aim is not reproducing his playing literally, but to realize a personal aesthetic inspired by Lipatti, and to access that in turn both through rational and non-rational means. At all stages, it is important to ask how such an immersive process of learning from a historical figure may be healthy or unhealthy, not only personally but also artistically. I explore the dramatic and ambivalent discourse of the psychological and cultural dimensions of my relationship with Lipatti.

Multiple video extracts and concerts record both my experimentation and evolving playing styles, constituting a practical portfolio of materials that sits at the heart of this study.

Header Image Credit: Iriel Jue Lin

Audio and Video

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If you would like to find out more about this project, please don't hesitate to get in touch:

Chiaying Bella Tang

Daniel-Ben Pienaar (Supervisor)

Neil Heyde (Supervisor)