The same study G flat, op. 10, No. 5, is also treated separately, the melody being transferred to the treble. The Butterfly octaves, in another study, are made to hop nimbly along in the left hand, and the C major study, op. 10, No. 7, Chopin’s Toccata, is arranged for the left hand, and seems very practical and valuable. Here the adapter has displayed great taste and skill, especially on the third page. The pretty musical idea is not destroyed, but viewed from other points of vantage. Op. 10, No. 2, is treated like a left hand study, as it should be. Chopin did not always give enough work to the left hand, and the first study of this opus in C is planned on brilliant lines for both hands. Ingenious is the manipulation of the seldom played op. 25, No. 5, in E minor. As a study in rhythms and double notes it is very welcome. The F minor study, op. 25, No. 2, as considered by the ambidextrous Godowsky, is put in the bass, where it whirrs along to the melodic encouragement of a theme of the paraphraser’s own, in the right. This study has suffered the most of all, for Brahms, in his heavy, Teutonic way, set it grinding double sixths, while Isidor Philipp, in his “Studies for the Left Hand,” has harnessed it to sullen octaves. This Frenchman, by the way, has also arranged for left hand alone the G sharp minor, the D flat double sixths, the A minor—“Winter Wind”—studies, the B flat minor prelude, and, terrible to relate, the last movement of the Chopin B flat minor Sonata.
Are the Godowsky transcriptions available? Certainly. In ten years—so rapid is the technical standard advancing—they will be used in the curriculum of students. Whether he has treated Chopin with reverence I leave my betters to determine. What has reverence to do with the case, anyhow? Plato is parsed in the schoolroom, and Beethoven taught in conservatories! Therefore why worry over the question of Godowsky’s attitude! Besides, he is writing for the next generation—presumably a generation of Rosenthals.
And now, having passed over the salt and stubbly domain of pedagogics, what is the dominant impression gleaned from the twenty-seven Chopin studies? Is it not one of admiration, tinged with wonder at such a prodigal display of thematic and technical invention? Their variety is great, the aesthetic side is nowhere neglected for the purely mechanical, and in the most poetic of them stuff may be found for delicate fingers. Astounding, canorous, enchanting, alembicated and dramatic, the Chopin studies are exemplary essays in emotion and manner. In them is mirrored all of Chopin, the planetary as well as the secular Chopin. When most of his piano music has gone the way of all things fashioned by mortal hands, these studies will endure, will stand for the nineteenth century as Beethoven crystallized the eighteenth, Bach the seventeenth centuries in piano music. Chopin is a classic.