The Great German Composers eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 143 pages of information about The Great German Composers.

Chopin’s obsequies took place at the Madeleine Church, and Lablache sang on this occasion the same passage, the “Tuba Mirum” of Mozart’s Requiem Mass, which he had sung at the funeral of Beethoven in 1827; while the other solos were given by Mme. Viardot Garcia and Mme. Castellan.  He lies in Pere Lachaise, beside Cherubini and Bellini.

V.

The compositions of Chopin were exclusively for the piano; and alike as composer and virtuoso he is the founder of a new school, or perhaps may be said to share that honor with Robert Schumann—­the school which to-day is represented in its advanced form by Liszt and Von Billow.  Schumann called him “the boldest and proudest poetic spirit of the times.”  In addition to this remarkable poetic power, he was a splendidly-trained musician, a great adept in style, and one of the most original masters of rhythm and harmony that the records of music show.  All his works, though wanting in breadth and robustness of tone, are characterized by the utmost finish and refinement.  Full of delicate and unexpected beauties, elaborated with the finest touch, his effects are so quaint and fresh as to fill the mind of the listener with pleasurable sensations, perhaps not to be derived from grander works.

Chopin was essentially the musical exponent of his nation; for he breathed in all the forms of his art the sensibilities, the fires, the aspirations, and the melancholy of the Polish race.  This is not only evident in his polonaises, his waltzes and mazurkas, in which the wild Oriental rhythms of the original dances are treated with the creative skill of genius; but also in the etudes, the preludes, nocturnes, scherzos, ballads, etc., with which he so enriched musical literature.  His genius could never confine itself within classic bonds, but, fantastic and impulsive, swayed and bent itself with easy grace to inspirations that were always novel and startling, though his boldness was chastened by deep study and fine art-sense.

All of the suggestions of the quaint and beautiful Polish dance-music were worked by Chopin into a variety of forms, and were greatly enriched by his skill in handling.  He dreamed out his early reminiscences in music, and these national memories became embalmed in the history of art.  The polonaises are marked by the fire and ardor of his soldier race, and the mazurkas are full of the coquetry and tenderness of his countrywomen; while the ballads are a free and powerful rendering of Polish folk-music, beloved alike in the herdsman’s hut and the palace of the noble.  In deriving his inspiration direct from the national heart, Chopin did what Schumann, Schubert, and Weber did in Germany, what Rossini did in Italy, and shares with them a freshness of melodic power to be derived from no other source.  Rather tender and elegiac than vigorous, the deep sadness underlying the most sparkling forms of his work is most notable.  One can at times almost recognize the requiem of a nation in the passionate melancholy on whose dark background his fancy weaves such beautiful figures and colors.

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The Great German Composers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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