Kinderszenen: for piano solo

Richard Whalley (Composer)

Research output: Non-textual formComposition


This set of seven character movements for piano was premiered by the composer at the Église St Pierre-ès-liens, Cissé, France on 8 August 2017 with subsequent performances in Manchester in October 2018 and April 2019.

While inspired by the whimsy and expressive intensity of Schumann’s eponymous work evoking the imaginary worlds of children, its overarching research objective was to investigate the possibilities of touch and articulation within the format of the piano miniature, asking how the balance between contrast and continuity can be achieved at both macro and micro structural levels. At the smallest scale the concentration was on the rigorous exploration of how touch and articulation can produce a distinctive approach to piano writing, in contrast to a focus on the piano as a percussion instrument or resonating chamber. At the structural level the piece investigated how large-scale coherence can be achieved through the juxtaposition of short contrasting character pieces, including through use of rhythm and metre to determine the set’s contrasts and continuities, and building evolving and contrasting keyboard textures through extended musical lines.

The different layers of structural relationship within the piece were addressed via a research methodology in which larger musical shapes were built from small fragments both through the use of distinctive pianistic textures at the level of the movement, and by juxtaposing contrasting movements of different characters and weights. The small-scale focus on touch and articulation was informed by a research context including Lachenmann’s Ein Kinderspiel, Abrahamsen’s Schnee, Birtwistle’s Harrisons’ Clocks, and Weir’s The art of touching the keyboard, but the work seeks to provide research insights into the distinctive aspects of characterisation made possible through its rigorous exploration of these two parameters of touch and articulation, as well as by demonstrating the intricate connections between articulation, timing, register and context.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherComposers Edition
Size17 mins
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2016


  • PIano solo
  • Dance
  • Children


Dive into the research topics of 'Kinderszenen: for piano solo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this