The Pianist’s Perception as a Working and Research Method: Encountering Intertextual and Phenomenological Approaches in Piano Playing


  • Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom Sibelius-Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki, DocMus-doctoral school



pianist, perception, intertextuality, phenomenology, method


The approach to my research topic “French Modernism in the 1920s” is to observe and analyze the methods I use as a pianist in dealing with multilayered artistic questions related to the French neoclassical repertoire, in particular, questions of intertextuality. Divergent performer-based approaches are needed because the musical aesthetics of this repertoire crucially deviates from German and earlier French traditions, and in musicological contexts, their intellectually challenging aesthetic purposes are somewhat misunderstood. My research aims are condensed into a single question: “What are the main characteristics of the pianist’s way of perceiving music in the context of French neoclassical piano music and its intertextuality.” This question formulates a thought experiment in which the aim is to observe the inherently analytical properties of piano playing, which I have named “the pianist’s perception,” based on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s theories in Phenomenology of Perception (1945/2014).

Author Biography

Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom, Sibelius-Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki, DocMus-doctoral school

Eveliina Sumelius-Lindblom, pianist and DMus-candidate, is an inquisitive, intellectually-oriented performing musician as well as an experienced piano pedagogue. She specializes in artistic and musical aesthetics in early 20th century neoclassical music, and her ongoing series of doctoral concerts includes an extensive cross-section of the French post-WWI repertoire.


Adorno, T. W. & Hullot-Kentor, R. (2006). Philosophy of new music. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Bach, J. S. (Composer). 1978. Präludium in das Wohltemperierte Klavier I, BWV 846-869 [Sheet music]. München, DE: G. Henle Verlag. (Original work published in 1722)

Cobussen, M. (2011). Music and network. A becoming insect of music. Retrieved from

Cocteau, J. (1921). Cock and harlequin. Notes concerning music. (R. H. Myers, Trans.). London, UK: Egoist Press. (Original work published in 1918). Retrieved from and Harlequin %28Jean Cocteau%29.pdf

Crane, T. & Patterson, S. (2000). History of the mind-body problem. London, UK:


Diprose, R. & Reynolds, J. (2008). Merleau-Ponty: Key concepts. Stocksfield, UK: Acumen.

Gallagher, S. & Zahavi, D. (2012). The phenomenological mind (2nd ed.). London, UK: Routledge.

Goodman, N. (1976). Languages of art. An approach to a theory of symbols. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company Inc.

Honegger, A. (Composer). (1933). Prélude, Arioso et Fughetta sur le nom de Bach [Sheet music]. Paris: Salabert.

Juvan, M. (2008). History and poetics of intertextuality. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University.

Korhonen-Björkman, H. (2016). Musikerröster i Betsy Jolas Musik ̶ dialoger och spelerfarenheter i analys. Acta Musicologica Fennica 33: Musikvetenskapliga sällskapet i Finland. Helsinki, FI: Taideyliopiston Sibelius-Akatemia.

Kristeva, J. (1967). Bakhtine, le mot le dialogue et le roman. Critique 23(239), 438-465.

Krämer, U. (2012). Foreword. In E. Satie, Sonatine Burocratique (pp. iv-v). München, DE: Henle Verlag.

Levinson, J. (1990). Music, art, & metaphysics: Essays in philosophical aesthetics. New York: Cornell University Press.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (2000). The visible and the invisible: Followed by working notes. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. (Original work published in 1968)

Merleau-Ponty, M (2007). In T. Toadvine & L. Lawlor, The Merleau-Ponty reader (p. 419). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Merleau-Ponty, M. & Landes, D. A. (2014). Phenomenology of perception. Abingdon Oxon, UK: Routledge. (Original work published in 1945)

Messing, S. (1988). Neoclassicism in music: From the genesis of the concept through the Schoenberg/Stravinsky polemic. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press.

Milhaud, D. (1923). The evolution of modern music in Paris and in Vienna. The North American Review, 217(809), 544-554. Retrieved from

Milhaud, D. (Composer). (2006). Saudades do Brasil: suite de danses op.67 [Sheet music]. Paris: Eschig. (Original work published in 1922)

Morris, D. (2008). Body. In R. Diprose & Jack Reynolds (Eds.), Merleau-Ponty key concepts (pp. 111-120). Stocksfield, UK: Acumen.

Orr, M. (2003). Intertextuality: Debates and contexts. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Perloff, N. (1991). Art and the everyday. Popular entertainment and the circle of Eric Satie. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Pfister, M. (1991). How postmodern is intertextuality? In H. F. Plett (Ed.), Intertextuality.

(Research in text theory), (pp. 207-224). Berlin, DE: Walter de Gruyter.

Plett, H. F. (1991). Intertextuality (Research in text theory). Berlin, DE: Walter de Gruyter.

Satie, E. (Composer). (2014). Sonatine burocratique [Sheet music]. (Original work published in 1917.)

Stravinsky, I. (Composer). (1978). Sonata [Sheet music]. New York: Boosey & Hawkes (Original work published in 1924.)

Sudnow, D. (2001). Ways of the hand. The organization of improvised conduct. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sumelius-Lindblom, E. (2016). Uusi(EPÄ)järjestys? 1920-luvun ranskalaisen modernismin käsitehistoriallista tarkastelua. Trio, 5(2)18-53. Retrieved from

Šuvakovic, M. (1997). Exclusivity and coexistence. In M. Šuvakovic (Ed.) Proceedings of the International Symposium Folklore, Music, Work of Art (p. 36). Belgrade, RS: Faculty of Music.

Taruskin, R. (2009). Danger of music and other anti-utopian essays. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Toadvine, T. & Lawlor, L. (2007). The Merleau-Ponty reader. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.

Whittall, A (2001). Neo-classicism. Oxford music online: Grove music online. Oxford, University Press. Retrieved from




How to Cite

Sumelius-Lindblom, E. (2019). The Pianist’s Perception as a Working and Research Method: Encountering Intertextual and Phenomenological Approaches in Piano Playing. Art/Research International: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 4(1), 83–105.