Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National by Jonathan D. Bellman

By Jonathan D. Bellman

Chopin's moment Ballade, Op. 38 is often played, and takes in simple terms seven or so mins to play. but the paintings continues to be very poorly understood--disagreement prevails on matters from its tonic and two-key constitution to its posited dating with the poems of Adam Mickiewicz. Chopin's Polish Ballade is a reexamination and shut research of this well-known paintings, revealing the Ballade as a section with a robust political tale to inform. during the normal musical kinds and particular references within the Ballade, which use either operatic ideas and techniques constructed in programmatic piano items for amateurs, writer Jonathan Bellman lines a transparent narrative thread to modern French operas. His cautious historic exegesis of formerly neglected musical and cultural contexts brings to gentle a number of recent insights approximately this amazing piece, which, as Bellman exhibits, displays the cultural preoccupations of the Polish ?migr?s in mid-1830s Paris, pining with sour nostalgia for a place of birth now less than Russian domination. This very important connection to the extramusical tradition of its day kinds the root for a believable courting with the nationalistic poetry of Mickiewicz. Chopin's Polish Ballade additionally solves the long-standing conundrum of the 2 extant models of the Ballade, making a huge element in regards to the versatile thought of "work" that Chopin embraced.

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Schwab, James Gibbons Huneker: Critic of the Seven Arts (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1963), 21, 121. 39. For more on Mathias, see Eigeldinger, Chopin: Pianist and Teacher, 170–71. Although Huneker never realized his pianistic ambitions (a subject about which he was somewhat sensitive), he was pianist enough to have taught for ten years (1888–98) at the National Conservatory in New York, having been hired by Rafael Joseffy as part of his sixperson piano staff. Schwab, James Gibbons Huneker, 51–52.

Before we can look at Chopin’s music in greater detail, we will need to know the musical strategies for storytelling—the rules of the game, in other words—as they were practiced, understood, and enjoyed in his time and immediately before. ” As preparation for addressing a ballade narrative, then, let us proceed to an overview of contemporary musical narratives per se. 59. One important recent contribution in this is Sanna Pederson, “The Missing History of Absolute Music,” paper given at the Seventy-Third Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Que´bec City, Canada, 1–4 November 2007.

56 That Schumann’s handful of words says almost nothing definite, that Perahia doesn’t specify which “musical facts” he means or which poems are supposedly now more relevant and evocative—none of this matters; the hoary myth, now legitimized, is as familiar as George Washington’s cherry tree. Yet if the linkage between specific Mickiewicz poems and Chopin’s ballades really were of Polish provenance, or at any rate if it originated in the composer’s lifetime, it would have received more attention in print before Kleczyn´ski’s isolated, offhand sentence about the Third Ballade, the Polish translation of Huneker’s too-imaginative work, and a Polish biography published two years after Laurent Cellier’s highly dubious commentaries on Alfred Cortot’s 1924 concert season.

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