The goal of this research is to characterize representative performances by famous pianists in order to determine main influential trends in performance, derived specifically from traditional piano practices referred to as National Piano Schools. Previous research (Lourenço, 2005, 2007) has shown strong musical correlation of particular characteristics, namely the aesthetic, the technical, the historic and the repertoire. The concept of piano interpretation school is a useful concept for analyzing the universe of piano performance. Piano pedagogy literature of each European National Piano School has been analyzed together with an empirical audio analysis of recordings through a check-list survey. Overall the main National Piano Schools consist of three essential branches: the Russian school; the German school; the French school. The identification of National Piano Schools provides a powerful framework of study and an awareness of Europe's elusive music heritage and it main influences. Furthermore, as pianists use their whole body to enhance their communication of the music's spiritual, emotional and dramatic essence, this study also aims to contribute into research on performance practice
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