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Exploring Josef Hofmann’s Recordings in My Pianistic Journey

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posted on 2021-12-08, 07:55 authored by Wu, Qian

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.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Musical Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

New Zealand School of Music


Liu, Jian; Robb, Hamish