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I will address the questions posed above through the interviews I have made with three Finnish female professional pianists concerning their experience about gender in piano performance.Three aspects of piano performance are especially in focus.
As Lucy Green points out, the keyboard instruments played “a major part in the image of the accomplished young lady in the eighteenth and nineteenth century” (1993: 59).
Even though the keyboard instruments’ seated position of playing began to do so (De Nora 2002: 28–32).
Bearing in mind Gatens’s (2003) notion of unconscious dimensions of social heritage, I want to explore in this article how gender is constructed and reflected through piano performance considering – as I will later discuss – that the performance ideals of piano are from the historical perspective deeply gendered.
Gatens (2003: 4) argues that the body in fact is not a that there is no neutral body.
Consequently Beethoven’s music’s extreme contrasts in dynamics, tempo and mood became progressively difficult for a pianist to perform without breaking the aristocratic corporeality and the existing notions of feminine decorum.
(De Nora 2002: 29–32.) Moreover, his works opposed the quiet, unobtrusive performing body that was associated with the pianistic femininity. Subsequently De Nora (2002: 30) states that “’forceful’ compositions and virtuosic flamboyance came to be associated with male musical workers”.
“[T]here are at least two kinds of bodies: the male body and the female body” (2003: 8).
Furthermore, Gatens (2003: 9) states that “the male body and the female body have quite a different social value and significantly cannot help but have a marked effect on male and female consciousness”.
In addition, the aim is to acquire the skills required to produce the written music as sound.
Along with technical skill development, years of musical education encourages the pianist to seek freedom of expression through music, though within the limits of the performance practice of the musical style in question.