Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 812 pages of information about Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician Complete.

CHAPTER XIII

Chopin’s productions from the spring of 1829 to THEEND of 1831.—­ The chief influences that helped to form his style of composition.

Let us pause for a little in our biographical inquiries and critically examine what Chopin had achieved as a composer since the spring of 1829.  At the very first glance it becomes evident that the works of the last two years (1829-1831) are decidedly superior to those he wrote before that time.  And this advance was not due merely to the increased power derived from practice; it was real growth, which a Greek philosopher describes as penetration of nourishment into empty places, the nourishment being in Chopin’s case experience of life’s joys and sorrows.  In most of the works of what I call his first period, the composer luxuriates, as it were, in language.  He does not regard it solely or chiefly as the interpreter of thoughts and feelings, he loves it for its own sake, just as children, small and tall, prattle for no other reason than the pleasure of prattling.  I closed the first period when a new element entered Chopin’s life and influenced his artistic work.  This element was his first love, his passion for Constantia Gtadkowska.  Thenceforth Chopin’s compositions had in them more of humanity and poetry, and the improved subject-matter naturally, indeed necessarily, chastened, ennobled, and enriched the means and ways of expression.  Of course no hard line can be drawn between the two periods—­the distinctive quality of the one period appears sometimes in the work of the other:  a work of the earlier period foreshadows the character of the later; one of the later re-echoes that of the earlier.

The compositions which we know to have been written by Chopin between 1829 and 1831 are few in number.  This may be partly because Chopin was rather idle from the autumn of 1830 to the end of 1831, partly because no account of the production of other works has come down to us.  In fact, I have no doubt that other short pieces besides those mentioned by Chopin in his letters were composed during those years, and subsequently published by him.  The compositions oftenest and most explicitly mentioned in the letters are also the most important ones—­namely, the concertos.  As I wish to discuss them at some length, we will keep them to the last, and see first what allusions to other compositions we can find, and what observations these latter give rise to.

On October 3, 1829, Chopin sends his friend Titus Woyciechowski a waltz which, he says, was, like the Adagio of the F minor Concerto, inspired by his ideal, Constantia Gladkowska:—­

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