The role of dexterity in Ligeti's Piano Etudes, Trio and Concerto

  • Marianna Abrahamyan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (DPerf)


The main objective of my artistic research is to examine the role of dexterity in György Ligeti’s piano music; particularly the ways in which he develops the concept of pianism in his Etudes, Piano Trio, and Piano Concerto. Although key lines of inquiry have already been widely examined in Ligeti’s piano works concerning matters of rhythmic complexity, erratic metre, accentuation, and notation (e.g., Boukobza, 2019; Talgam, 2019; Steinitz, 2003) the previous research has neglected a thorough analysis of dexterity: ‘music written for the hand.’

My methodology involves a detailed analysis of and reflection on the fundamental principles of the keyboard technique which shaped and influenced Ligeti’s work. I focus on the fundamental aspects of keyboard fingering through three core approaches: engagement with the wider historical tradition (e.g., CPE Bach, Frederic Chopin’s documented practice and other sources), consideration of Ligeti’s manuscript, and lastly my own experience playing Ligeti’s late period works.

Through the investigation, I argue that despite the extreme complexity and uniqueness of the composer’s works considered, they demonstrate a continuity with both the pianistic hand and pianistic history.
Date of Award13 Jun 2024
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorSinae Lee (Supervisor)


  • Marianna Abrahamyan (pianist)
  • Ligeti's Piano Music, Etudes
  • Contemporary Piano Etudes
  • DPERF. Ligeti. Piano Etudes.
  • Pierre Laurent Aimard, Ligeti Piano Etudes
  • Artistic research Piano
  • Artistic research Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • Ligetii Concerto for Piano
  • Pianism. Dexterity. Virtuosity. The Art of Piano Fingering

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • Permanently
  • Redacted version available

Cite this