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date: 12 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay asks how navigating the world without sight can influence musical interpretation and enable a blind performer to make music move in unfamiliar ways. A recording of Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude in B Minor Op. 28 No. 6 by the blind Hungarian pianist Imre Ungár (1909–1972) constitutes the focal point for an analysis guided simultaneously by Naomi Cumming’s (2000) conceptualization of “the performing self” (a musical identity that emerges through the performer’s ability to control the movement of notes) and by Joseph Straus’s (2011) conception of “mobility-inflected hearing” (musical understanding shaped by the experience of movement in a disabled body). Ungár’s pianistic self transforms blindness from a visual impairment into a moving (that is, kinesthetic) experience, carrying Chopin’s prelude through musical spaces at once unfamiliar and generative.

Keywords: mobility-inflected hearing, disabled performance, blindness, musical identity, disability experience, pianism

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