The Music of Chopin

The Music of Chopin

The Music of Chopin

The Music of Chopin

Synopsis

The lasting popularity of Chopin's music has reached "from salon to slum." He captured and expressed the spirit of the age of Romanticism, its ardour and idealism, its longing and restlessness, its love of spontaneity, with an authority his contemporaries immediately recognized and which successive generations have admired and loved. Much of the Chopin literature in English is biographical, but this book is a critical study of the music itself and of the creative process which is central to the life of any composer. Samson provides a detailed analysis of the style and structure of the music in the light of recent Chopin scholarship on the one hand and recent analytical methods on the other. The early chapters deal mainly with the sources and the characteristic profile of Chopin's musical style, relating his music to a wider context in social and stylistic history. Later chapters look rather at the structure of his music and how it functions, with many examples highlighting the discussion.

Excerpt

Books on Chopin proliferate. There is even a book about the books. Yet surprisingly few of them examine his music in any but a loosely descriptive, impressionistic fashion. Biography has proved more alluring. From the Liszt book of 1852 onwards the flood of biographies has continued to swell and it shows little sign of abating. In English alone there have been five books since 1976. Quality is another matter. I seriously doubt whether an adequate biography can be rendered by anyone whose understanding of the music is casual. If there is a single overwhelming defect of recent English biographies it is their exiguous and shallow treatment of creative process, which is after all central to the 'life' of any composer. In this and in other respects they fall short of the high standards set by Gastone Belotti in his three-volume study in Italian and by Józef Chomiński in his concise but penetrating book in German. Perhaps translations are the answer.

Critical studies of Chopin's music, then, are few and far between, at least in English. Gerald Abraham's book was of immense importance as an early and perceptive introduction, the first serious attempt since Niecks to provide English-speaking readers with an anatomy of the composer's style. Abraham's book was published in 1939 and since then there has only been one book in English which deals primarily with the music, a symposium edited by Alan Walker. There may be some value then in a fresh study, one which aims to provide a detailed analysis of the style and structure of the music in the light of recent Chopin scholarship on the one hand and recent analytical methods on the other.

Quite apart from the many books on Chopin in Polish, French and German, there is a wealth of scholarship which has been channelled into formats other than the full-length book and which is therefore little known outside specialist circles. Much of this has been work at the rock face, involving text-critical methods and other forms of source study. Since the First International Chopin Congress of 1960 there has been an explosion of such scholarship in Poland itself, resulting in several major studies in dissertation form and in Rocznik Chopinowski, and culminating in Krystyna Kobylańska's monumental catalogue of Chopin's manuscripts. The Katalog is a triumph of patience and method, an indispensable work of reference . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.