Chopin : the Man and His Music eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 282 pages of information about Chopin .
to D flat, and for a moment a point of repose is gained, but this elusive rest is brief.  The theme reappears in the tonic and in octaves, and the tension becomes too great; the accumulated passion discharges and dissolves in a fierce gust of double chromatic thirds and octaves.  Powerful, repellant, this prelude is almost infernal in its pride and scorn.  But in it I discern no vestige of uncontrolled hysteria.  It is well-nigh as strong, rank and human as Beethoven.  The various editorial phraseology is not of much moment.  Riemann uses thirty-second notes for the cadenzas, Kullak eighths and Klindworth sixteenths.

Niecks writes of the Prelude in C sharp minor, op. 45, that it “deserves its name better than almost any one of the twenty-four; still I would rather call it improvisata.  It seems unpremeditated, a heedless outpouring, when sitting at the piano in a lonely, dreary hour, perhaps in the twilight.  The quaver figure rises aspiringly, and the sustained parts swell out proudly.  The piquant cadenza forestalls in the progression of diminished chords favorite effects of some of our more modern composers.  The modulation from C sharp minor to D major and back again—­after the cadenza—­is very striking and equally beautiful.”

Elsewhere I have called attention to the Brahmsian coloring of this prelude.  Its mood is fugitive and hard to hold after capture.  Recondite it is and not music for the multitude.

Niecks does not think Chopin created a new type in the Preludes.  “They are too unlike each other in form and character.”  Yet notwithstanding the fleeting, evanescent moods of the Preludes, there is designedly a certain unity of feeling and contrasted tonalities, all being grouped in approved Bach-ian manner.  This may be demonstrated by playing them through at a sitting, which Arthur Friedheim, the Russian virtuoso, did in a concert with excellent effect.  As if wishing to exhibit his genius in perspective, Chopin carved these cameos with exceeding fineness, exceeding care.  In a few of them the idea overbalances the form, but the greater number are exquisite examples of a just proportion of manner and matter, a true blending of voice and vision.  Even in the more microscopic ones the tracery, echoing like the spirals in strange seashells, is marvellously measured.  Much in miniature are these sculptured Preludes of the Polish poet.


To write of the four Impromptus in their own key of unrestrained feeling and pondered intention would not be as easy as recapturing the first “careless rapture” of the lark.  With all the freedom of an improvisation the Chopin impromptu has a well defined form.  There is structural impulse, although the patterns are free and original.  The mood-color is not much varied in three, the first, third and fourth, but in the second there is a ballade-like quality that hints of the tragic.  The A flat

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