Chopin : the Man and His Music eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about Chopin .

Two Polonaises remain.  One, in B flat minor, was composed in 1826, on the occasion of the composer’s departure for Reinerz.  A footnote to the edition of this rather elegiac piece tells this.  Adieu to Guillaume Kolberg, is the title, and the Trio in D flat is accredited to an air of “Gazza Ladra,” with a sentimental Au Revoir inscribed.  Kleczynski has revised the Gebethner & Wolff edition.  The little cadenza in chromatic double notes on the last page is of a certainty Chopin.  But the Polonaise in G flat major, published by Schott, is doubtful.  It has a shallow ring, a brilliant superficiality that warrants Niecks in stamping it as a possible compilation.  There are traces of the master throughout, particularly in the E flat minor Trio, but there are some vile progressions and an air of vulgarity surely not Chopin’s.  This dance form, since the death of the great composer, has been chiefly developed on the virtuoso side.  Beethoven, Schubert, Weber, and even Bach—­in his B minor suite for strings and flute--also indulged in this form.  Wagner, as a student, wrote a Polonaise for four hands, in D, and in Schumann’s Papillons there is a charming specimen.  Rubinstein composed a most brilliant and dramatic example in E flat in Le Bal.  The Liszt Polonaises, all said and done, are the most remarkable in design and execution since Chopin.  But they are more Hungarian than Polish.



“Coquetries, vanities, fantasies, inclinations, elegies, vague emotions, passions, conquests, struggles upon which the safety or favors of others depend, all, all meet in this dance.”

Thus Liszt.  De Lenz further quotes him:  “Of the Mazurkas, one must harness a new pianist of the first rank to each of them.”  Yet Liszt told Niecks he did not care much for Chopin’s Mazurkas.  “One often meets in them with bars which might just as well be in another place.  But as Chopin puts them perhaps nobody could have put them.”  Liszt, despite the rhapsodical praise of his friend, is not always to be relied upon.  Capricious as Chopin, he had days when he disliked not only the Mazurkas, but all music.  He confessed to Niecks that when he played a half hour for amusement it was Chopin he took up.

There is no more brilliant chapter than this Hungarian’s on the dancing of the Mazurka by the Poles.  It is a companion to his equally sensational description of the Polonaise.  He gives a wild, whirling, highly-colored narrative of the Mazurka, with a coda of extravagant praise of the beauty and fascination of Polish women.  “Angel through love, demon through fantasy,” as Balzac called her.  In none of the piano rhapsodies are there such striking passages to be met as in Liszt’s overwrought, cadenced prose, prose modelled after Chateaubriand.  Niema iak Polki—­ “nothing equals the Polish women” and their “divine coquetries;” the Mazurka is their dance—­it is the feminine complement to the heroicand masculine Polonaise.

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Chopin : the Man and His Music from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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