Diana Galakhova

Rediscovering Franz Schubert’s piano music through the pianos of his time

University of Bergen, Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design, The Grieg Academy - Department of  Music

In my research I am going to focus on the performance practice of the piano music of Franz Schubert on the pianos of his time. Even though Schubert’s keyboard repertoire had been an object of scholarship, in a context of historical pianos it remains hardly explored. Recent research suggests that performance notation is rather accidental and advisable in Schubert’s manuscripts. Therefore, I argue that original Viennese instruments play a crucial role in understanding Schubert’s musical text, his compositional decisions and performance practice. Through my experimentation with practising and performing on fortepianos I expect to reveal interpretational solutions and musical meanings only possible with the authentic acoustical and technical affordances of these instruments. A musical instrument with its unique timbre, sound world, registers, and tactile qualities inspires the artist during performance, revealing musical meanings and expressions hidden behind the musical text. Moreover, I intend to reflect on my artistic practice on fortepianos and find adequate solutions in Schubert’s repertoire on a modern grand piano.


In the course of the research I am going to combine my artistic practice with a modern scientific investigational tool of spectral analysis. It is an approach rarely executed in piano performance scholarship, let alone in the study of Schubert’s piano music. This method will enable us to perceive the sound of Schubert’s piano music free from the subjectiveness of the human ear. The acquired data will help heighten my aural awareness in my artistic practice by acknowledging the acoustic characteristics of a given instrument and the way Schubert had dealt with them in his compositions.


The purpose of my research is to revisit Schubert’s piano repertoire and create convincing and informed performance interpretations through the prism of Viennese fortepianos by the implementation of a range of artistic, academic and scientific methods. I firmly believe that my project will provide a considerable contribution to existing scholarship on Schubert and will also offer great help to pianists in their pursuit to understand the aesthetics of the early romantic repertoire.

Diana Galakhova is a PhD Fellow in Artistic Research at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen specializing in historically informed performance practice

Born in Murmansk, Russia, Diana started her musical education there at the Murmansk College of Arts. In 2011 Diana received a scholarship to study Piano Performance under professor Gordon Fergus-Thompson at the Royal College of Music in London where she graduated with a Master of Performance degree.

Diana received her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz (Austria) where she combined piano performance studies (under professor Libor Novacek) with historically informed performance studies on Viennese fortepianos (under professor Katharina Brand).

Diana is a prize winner of both national and international competitions and has enjoyed performing in the UK, Europe and Russia.