Integral Dimensions of Piano Accompanying: A Stable Change in Identity

  • Agnė Railaitė - Jurkūnienė
  • Laima Budzinauskienė
Keywords: music, piano accompanying, collaborative work, art, craft, performing art, chamber ensemble, identity


Ontological and epistemological polarisation between the concepts of art and craft, the aspects of their differentiation and synthesis are important in all artistic disciplines. Speaking specifically about the musical performance as a discipline, the objective, measurable, and technical means of expression are always accompanied by subjective abstract implications of individual features that characterise a certain performer or an ensemble. Creative explorations by nineteenth-century Western European composers and the romantic ideology in general provided a fruitful ground for the development of a qualitatively new type of relationship between the soloist and the accompanist. In response to the new demands posed on the accompanist, the issues of equality and collaboration between partners in a chamber ensemble first appeared in public discussion and were considered by music scholars of the time. This also led to further differentiation of distinctive sub-disciplines in the art of accompaniment. Even though the distinction between art and craft is obvious and indisputable, the notion of craftsmanship, placed in the context of practice, becomes a starting point and a prerequisite in the pursuit of fine quality in every art and profession. In the practice of the accompanying pianist, which forms a separate field of specialisation in piano performance, the “art-and-craft” dialectic is especially pronounced. This may be due to the multidimensional character of such practice. Our aim here is not to emphasise the opposition between these categories but to oppose them according to the specific areas of their manifestation and to draft a coherent structure of accompanying pianist’s profession. By synthesising various characteristics, the craft within a profession becomes a path towards transcendental art, a means to achieve symmetry between identity of creative work and fine quality.