Date of Award

Fall 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

Sara Ernst


Throughout the history of piano playing as an art form, various performers, teachers, and theorists have written treatises as a means of conveying their thoughts on interpretation, education, and technique. As the Romantic tradition of pianism peaked in the early- to mid-20th century, three particular treatises were written that continue to have a major impact upon pianistic thought. These were Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing by Josef Lhevinne, Piano Technique by Karl Leimer, and The Art of Piano Playing by Heinrich Neuhaus.

Each of these treatises was influential at the time of its publication, and each has remained in publication since. This is primarily due to the notability of each of the individual authors. In their own unique ways, Lhevinne, Leimer, and Neuhaus were leading pianistic figures of their time. While considerable study has been dedicated to these figures and their respective treatises, there has been relatively little crosscomparison, particularly regarding their thoughts on piano technique. This study is designed to address this paucity of research, and aims to serve as a guide for performers and teachers who wish to more deeply understand the technical thoughts of these three crucial figures.

This dissertation consists of six chapters and a bibliography. Chapter one provides an overview of the historical context of these treatises, and also contains the purpose and need for the study, limitations, related literature, and methodology. Chapter two focuses upon the respective authors’ thoughts on the larger mechanisms of piano playing, including the upper arm and forearm, as well as general considerations regarding posture. Chapter three addresses the wrist. Chapter four addresses the hands and fingers. Chapter five focuses upon the mental component of piano technique, including the more esoteric thoughts of the three authors. Chapter six offers deeper comparisons between the treatises, as well as a conclusion and suggestions for further research.


© 2021, Louis S. Hehman