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Music and French Personal Statement

What really interests me about music is the process through which one takes the ‘notes on a page’ and forms their own musical meaning; the way an interpretation is influenced by so many different factors.

I found Haynes’ book “The End of Early Music” refreshingly lucid in the way it explained and gave examples of the different performance styles of Baroque music, closely linking them with historical and cultural context. His book has made me feel strongly about the importance of understanding a work through considering the mind-set of the composer. It has also made me listen more critically to performances and assess why I like or dislike a particular interpretation.

There are other aspects of music that fascinate me. In terms of theory, I find it intriguing to break down a work into its component parts, analysing the reason a composer sounds the way they do and learning how to emulate their style. I am interested about the varying roles music has played in society over time; what influences particular movements and periods, as well as what or who influences a composer.

For example, I have become very interested in Shostakovich’s role in Soviet society and how this affected his compositions.

As a student of Russian 20th century history, I was particularly interested in Shostakovich’s relationship with the authorities and how this relationship was reflected in his works. I found listening with this contextual knowledge in mind fascinating, as I felt I understood more his political and even emotional motivations for writing in a particular way.

As a musician I see a close link between music and languages as means of expression and communication. My passion for languages stems from being brought up in a bi-lingual household with an English-speaking father and a Spanish-speaking mother. Now I am taking French at A-level and find the way languages link to each other intriguing.

This has led me to finding out more about linguistics – I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jean Aitchison’s book Linguistics: An Introduction, and it has made me perceive the concept of language in a different way. I am currently in the process of learning the International Phonetic Alphabet.

I’m also interested in translation; after reading Camus’ ‘L’Etranger’ I translated part of the first chapter which immediately made me see that to be faithful to the text whilst conveying the expression and tone of the author’s writing is very challenging. I subsequently compared different translations to see how they approached Camus’ text.

In early 2010 I undertook a weeks’ unpaid work experience in a children’s bookshop in Strasbourg, which really improved my speaking ability and made me ‘think’ in French, which I enjoyed a lot.

Studying History at A level has helped me acquire skills in independent research, discriminating comparison of sources and structured writing; Critical Thinking at A2 is developing my analytical and debating skills. I have played the cello and piano for over ten years - attaining Grade 8 distinctions in both (in 2007 and 2009) and in 2010 I won the Jack Petchey Award at my music school.

I am in the London Schools’ Symphony Orchestra and I lead and coach the cello section of my school orchestra. I teach piano privately and I sing in various chamber choirs.

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Successful applicant at Oxford, Southampton, Leeds and Bristol. Unsuccessful at Durham.

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