Francisca Skoogh. © PR
Peer-reviewed audio paper

Play always as if in the presence of a master

6. april 2021
Fokus: Sounds of Science

In classical music performance, if the only tool to sustain the great tradition may be seen to be perfectionism, it may hijack artistic expression and freedom. Possibly it will also limit the expressive potential of the performer. Taken together, the vast repertoire, the pressure to compete, and the institutional demands levied in order to make a career leave very little room for exploring new and radical parameters in performance or interpretation. ‘Potential space’ was Donald Winnicott’s term for an inviting and safe interpersonal field in which one can be spontaneously playful while at the same time connected to others. This audio paper by Kent Olofsson and Francisca Skoogh is a sound composition focusing on portraying performance as a potential space, with interpretation as play material. In it, we hear Skoogh, a pianist with many years of experience performing Western classical music, express her performance values, i.e. how she manages emotions connected to expected behaviour on stage and to the repertoire. The authors proceed to transcribe Winnicott’s potential space into artistic practice in order to challenge both the relations between score and performer, and expected concert traditions. It explores one of the great sonatas of the piano repertoire, the Piano Sonata Op. 11 by Robert Schumann.


Olofsson, K. (2018) Play Always as if in the Presence of a Master (Manuscript. Composition for piano and electronics) [online]. Available from: [Accessed 29 March 2021].

Olofsson, K. (2018) Composing the Performance: An Exploration of Musical Composition as a Dramaturgical Strategy in Contemporary Intermedial Theatre. PhD thesis, Lund University.

Reisner, G. (2019) Ghosted and Ancestral Selves in Hamlet: Loewald’s “Present Life” and Winnicott’s “Potential Space” in Shakespeare’s Play. Journal of the American Pysychoanalytic Association, 67(3), pp. 455-484. DOI: 10.1177/0003065119860838.

Schumann, R. (1981) Klaviersonate fis-moll, op. 11. München: Henle Verlag. (Original work published 1836).

Winnicott, D. W. (2005) Playing and Reality. London: Routledge.


Western classical music performance
potential space
performance values