Exploring Josef Hofmann’s Recordings in My Pianistic Journey
This exegesis studies Josef Hofmann’s pianistic intricacy and sophistication by surveying the minutiae and architectonics of his performances of Romantic and Classical piano compositions. The scores, together with a variety of other pianists’ recordings of the pieces involved, are referenced to establish the originality and significance of Hofmann’s interpretations. Chapter I introduces late-Romantic and modern perceptions of Hofmann's style, and a framework is introduced for the analysis of his technique, based on elemental pianistic parameters. Chapter II elaborates on Hofmann's jeu perlé, which is associated with non legato and leggiero touches. Chapter III addresses Hofmann's passagework, including fioriture and trills, which are imbued with jeu perlé and largely devoid of manneristic gestural agogics. It also addresses the continuous runs in the mode of toccata or perpetuum mobile, where he exerts an elastic control of tempo. Chapter IV focuses on Hofmann's voicing, especially his exploration of inner voices and hidden melodies. Chapter V discusses Hofmann’s phrasal shaping and structural projection, in particular how he calibrates and contextualises dynamic contrast, including crescendo, decrescendo, and accentuation. Chapter VI covers Hofmann’s modification of the score, including added repeated notes, octaves, and ornaments. This detailed study offers insight into the complex make up of a pianistic personality, and offers any pianist—myself included—an avenue for self-comparison and thus self-analysis.