Sanae Zanane, PhD in the Arts

Since 1880, piano building started to standardize around criteria of mechanical reliability, powerfulness of sound and expansiveness of dynamic range. At the same time and partly in response to that, a trend of normalization appeared in piano performance. Nowadays, interpretation of so-called classical and pre-romantic repertoire on modern pianos has been enriched in dynamics but impoverished in time flexibility. If agogics had been still in practice at the turn of the 19th century, how might composers have notated it—if at all? Is it possible that other signs—to indicate dynamics, articulation and accentuation—encapsulate cues toward recapturing a lively practice of agogics? Quite a lot of information on tempo and rhythm flexibility may be distilled from 18th century treatises. When it comes to the performance of actual repertoire pieces, however, it remains difficult to ascertain the extent and proportions of these practices. I set out to do so, through the performance practice on various types of fortepianos, in my investigation of Beethoven’s piano sonatas.


  • Dr. Tom Beghin (supervisor, KU Leuven/LUCA)
  • Dr. Carl Van Eyndhoven (co-supervisor, KU Leuven/LUCA)

Research unit: Music & Drama

Duration: 2018 - 2022