Name: Martje van Damme
Main Subject: Classical Piano
Research Supervisor: Stefan Petrovic
Title of Research: Deliver the meaning – Performance expression in a physical shape
Research Question: How are physical movements related to the expression in music?
Summary of Results:
During a performance I am aware of the meaning and ideas of the music and as a pianist I aim to deliver that meaning to the audience. The physical movements of the performer also have a strong influence on the way that meaning is perceived by the listeners. One of my main aims is to achieve a unity between my physical movements and expression, as well as a certain freedom and flexibility of my physical approach to piano playing. Over the course of this research I conducted experiments with various excerpts of the pieces I play, all of which represent a significant transition within the piece. These experiments gave me a good overview of what the influence of the physical movement is in relation to the expression and perception of a performance. What I observed from these experiments, reflecting on my aims, is that moving out of my comfort zone and expressing the meaning of the music, also by more exaggerated physical movements, made me feel free. It helped me discover new possibilities of playing and interpreting the music. Secondly, I realised that, by embedding musical ideas in my physical movements, technically challenging passages were not that difficult anymore. They became subservient to the musical ideas and character of the music. Thirdly, the exaggeration of physical movements sometimes created breathing space on very different spots compared to my usual way of playing. In these moments, I suddenly became more flexible. Finally, this process made me aware of the fact that my personal experience and the perception of the audience often differ widely. As a result of this inquiry, I am now more aware of the opportunities to express ideas that lead to a convincing performance.
Martje van Damme was born in Kampen, the Netherlands. She began her piano studies at the age of nine. In 2006, she enrolled into the “Academie voor Muzikaal Talent” in Utrecht, studying with Henk Ekkel. She took part in the Sommercourse Musik Zentral in Bad Aussee, Austria, several times. In 2011 she was participant during the Perpetuum Mobile Competition in Hilversum, where she won the second prize. She has participated in masterclasses from Martyn van den Hoek, David Kuyken, Klára Würtz, Andreas Woyke, Kamilla Bystrova, Helen Grizos and Dmitri Paperno. She has completed her BMus, studying with Paolo Giacometti at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf. Together with the mezzo-soprano Eva Marti, she twice won the third prize during the Schmolz und Bickenbach Chambermusic Competition. She participated during the URIM (liedduo masterclasses) in Brussels and received lessons from Anne Sofie von Otter, Christianne Stotijn, Eildert Beeftink and Julius Drake. Currently she is pursuing her master’s degree with David Kuyken at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague.