Chopin : the Man and His Music eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about Chopin .
Chopin is not only the poet of the piano, he is also the poet of music, the most poetic of composers.  Compared with him Bach seems a maker of solid polyphonic prose, Beethoven a scooper of stars, a master of growling storms, Mozart a weaver of gay tapestries, Schumann a divine stammerer.  Schubert, alone of all the composers, resembles him in his lyric prodigality.  Both were masters of melody, but Chopin was the master-workman of the two and polished, after bending and beating, his theme fresh from the fire of his forge.  He knew that to complete his “wailing Iliads” the strong hand of the reviser was necessary, and he also realized that nothing is more difficult for the genius than to retain his gift.  Of all natures the most prone to pessimism, procrastination and vanity, the artist is most apt to become ennuied.  It is not easy to flame always at the focus, to burn fiercely with the central fire.  Chopin knew this and cultivated his ego.  He saw too that the love of beauty for beauty’s sake was fascinating but led to the way called madness.  So he rooted his art, gave it the earth of Poland and its deliquescence is put off to the day when a new system of musical aestheticism will have routed the old, when the Ugly shall be king and Melody the handmaiden of science.  But until that most grievous and undesired time he will catch the music of our souls and give it cry and flesh.

III

Chopin is the open door in music.  Besides having been a poet and giving vibratory expression to the concrete, he was something else—­he was a pioneer.  Pioneer because in youth he had bowed to the tyranny of the diatonic scale and savored the illicit joys of the chromatic.  It is briefly curious that Chopin is regarded purely as a poet among musicians and not as a practical musician.  They will swear him a phenomenal virtuoso, but your musician, orchestral and theoretical, raises the eyebrow of the supercilious if Chopin is called creative.  A cunning finger-smith, a moulder of decorative patterns, a master at making new figures, all this is granted, but speak of Chopin as path-breaker in the harmonic forest—­that true “forest of numbers”—­as the forger of a melodic metal, the sweetest, purest in temper, and lo! you are regarded as one mentally askew.  Chopin invented many new harmonic devices, he untied the chord that was restrained within the octave, leading it into the dangerous but delectable land of extended harmonies.  And how he chromaticized the prudish, rigid garden of German harmony, how he moistened it with flashing changeful waters until it grew bold and brilliant with promise!  A French theorist, Albert Lavignac, calls Chopin a product of the German Romantic school.  This is hitching the star to the wagon.  Chopin influenced Schumann; it can be proven a hundred times.  And Schumann under stood Chopin else he could not have written the “Chopin” of the Carneval, which quite out-Chopins Chopin.

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