Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 995 pages of information about Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete.
same cannot be said of his less obvious wider influence.  Indeed, nothing is more common than to overlook his connection with the main current of musical history altogether, to regard him as a mere hors d’oeuvre in the musical menu of the universe.  My opinion, on the contrary, is that among the notable composers who have lived since the days of Chopin there is not to be found one who has not profited more or less, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, by this truly creative genius.  To trace his influence we must transport ourselves back fifty or sixty years, and see what the state of music then was, what composers expressed and what means of expression they had at their disposal.  Much that is now familiar, nay, even commonplace, was then a startling novelty.  The appearance of Chopin was so wonderful a phenomenon that it produced quite an electrical effect upon Schumann.  “Come,” said Berlioz to Legouve in the first years of the fourth decade of this century, “I am going to let you see something which you have never seen, and someone whom you will never forget.”  This something and someone was Chopin.  Mendelssohn being questioned about his enthusiasm for one of this master’s preludes replied:  “I love it, I cannot tell you how much, or why; except, perhaps, that it is something which I could never have written at all.”  Of course, Chopin’s originality was not universally welcomed and appreciated.  Mendelssohn, for instance, was rather repelled than attracted by it; at any rate, in his letters there are to be found frequent expressions of antipathy to Chopin’s music, which seemed to him” mannered “(see letter to Moscheles of February 7, 1835).  But even the heartless and brainless critic of the Musical World whose nonsense I quoted in Chapter XXXI. admits that Chopin was generally esteemed by the “professed classical musicians,” and that the name of the admirers of the master’s compositions was legion.  To the early popularity of Chopin’s music testify also the many arrangements for other instruments (the guitar not excepted) and even for voices (for instance, OEuvres celebres de Chopin, transcrites a une ou deux voix egales par Luigi Bordese) to which his compositions were subjected.  This popularity was, however, necessarily limited, limited in extent or intensity.  Indeed, popular, in the comprehensive sense of the word, Chopin’s compositions can never become.  To understand them fully we must have something of the author’s nature, something of his delicate sensibility and romantic imagination.  To understand him we must, moreover, know something of his life and country.  For, as Balzac truly remarked, Chopin was less a musician than une ame qui se rend sensible.  In short, his compositions are the “celestial echo of what he had felt, loved, and suffered”; they are his memoirs, his autobiography, which, like that of every poet, assumes the form of “Truth and Poetry.”


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Frederick Chopin, as a Man and Musician — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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