Virtuosity in piano works of Francesco Pollini. Issues of genre, piano writing and performance practice.

Andreacchio, Sara (13 November 2021). Virtuosity in piano works of Francesco Pollini. Issues of genre, piano writing and performance practice. In: Virtuosität und Innovation. Symposium zur Klaviermusik im brillanten Stil (ca. 1790–1840). Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus–Senftenberg, Institut für Instrumental- und Gesangspädagogik. 12.–14. November 2021.

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During his lifetime, Francesco Pollini (Ljubljana, 1762 - Milan, 1846) was celebrated as one of the “foremost pianists living in Italy” as well as “a very good composer” (Gazzetta musicale di Milano, 1847). For decades, his piano method (1812) continued to be a pedagogical reference for the fortepiano class of the Milan Conservatory while his piano works enjoyed even some international appreciation. In this paper, I will reflect on the practices of virtuosity as shaped in Francesco Pollini’s piano compositions throughout his career. In his early Grands Sonates (Paris, 1803), for instance, Pollini interposes cantabile passages with non-melodic passagework that extend the musical discourse for a mere technical skills display. In his sonatas op. 26 (Milan, 1812), his piano writing is emancipated to another kind of virtuosity that resides in a depth of expression and daring harmonic tensions. Finally, in his variations on opera themes the virtuosity lies in passages that exemplify the “brilliant style” as theorised by Carl Czerny (1839). Furthermore, I will shed some light on performance-related aspects, looking at Pollini’s “progressive” piano notation. An interesting example can be found in his toccatas (Milan 1820, 1830), which are written on three staves. Here, the melodic line is clearly distinguished from the inner voices and the bass accompaniment, while the orientation of the note stems indicates how to distribute the parts between the hands. This notational innovation helps to unfold a very dense texture that is a hallmark of Pollini’s piano writing, found in many of his compositions.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation


Andreacchio, Sara




Sara Andreacchio

Date Deposited:

26 Nov 2021 08:54

Last Modified:

01 Dec 2021 14:24


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