Frédéric chopin* chopin - meet the classics: chopin
Trois nouvelles études were written in 1839 as a contribution to Méthode des méthodes de piano , a piano instruction book by Ignaz Moscheles and François-Joseph Fétis , and were not given a separate opus number . While less technically brilliant than those of Opp. 10 and 25, these three études nevertheless retain Chopin's original formula for harmonic and structural balance.
The cold and damp, malnutrition, peasant suspiciousness of their strange ménage, and the lack of a suitable concert piano hindered Chopin’s artistic production and further weakened his precarious physical health. Indeed, the privations that Chopin endured hastened the slow decline in his health that ended with his death from tuberculosis 10 years later. Sand realized that only immediate departure would save his life. They arrived at Marseille in early March 1839, and, thanks to a skilled physician, Chopin was sufficiently recovered after just under three months for them to start planning a return to Paris.
The issue is largely academic because Chopin’s two piano concertos were composed within a year of each other. As you listen to this deeply expansive and expressive work, it has the mark of a composer who has reached full emotional and musical maturity, so it’s astonishing to think that Chopin wrote it while in his late teens. At its premiere in 1830, he played the piano part himself, and the concert marked his final public appearance in Poland. Within weeks, Chopin had left for Vienna and then Paris, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Although best known for its lyrical middle movement, this concerto also contains melodic gems throughout the two outer movements. It’s unashamedly heart-on-your-sleeve stuff, with Chopin allowing the rich sounds of the piano to be cushioned by some gloriously rich string accompaniment. The majority of Chopin’s output was for solo piano. But, as his two concertos for the instrument prove, he was adept at writing for piano and orchestra too.
Janina Fialkowska (piano); Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Bramwell Tovey (conductor). ATMA: ACD 22643.
By the mid-1840s, both Chopin's health and his relationship with George Sand were deteriorating. His behavior had also become erratic, possibly due to an undiagnosed form of epilepsy. Their affair ended in 1848 after, among other things, Sand's unflattering portrayal of their relationship in her 1846 novel Lucrezia Floriani . At the end, both parties were too proud to reconcile, and Chopin's spirit and health were broken. He made an extended tour to the British Isles, where he struggled under an exhausting schedule, making his last public appearance on November 16, 1848. He then returned to Paris, where he died on October 17, 1849, at age 39. His body was buried at Père Lachaise cemetery, but his heart was interred at a church in Warsaw, near the place of his birth.
Not only do his mazurkas incorporate operatic style, but it is also in the late mazurkas that Chopin most openly dared to show off his study of Bach. There are mazurkas that tactfully demonstrate the formal procedures and textures of the fugue, and his last published mazurka even plays the main theme as a two-voice canon at the end. Most editors give an easy fingering for this canon that divides some of the notes between the two hands, but Chopin clearly indicated that he wanted the two voices of the canon played by the right hand alone, making it excessively awkward; it would seem as if counterpoint for Chopin was something to be felt physically, through the nerves and muscles as well as the ear. Gluck was known as the German who wrote Italian music in France: we might call Chopin the Pole who wrote Italian and German music in Paris.
Several young ladies appear to have been the object of Chopin's affections over the years, but the most celebrated female with whom he had a relationship was Aurore Dudevant, known as George Sand, whom he met in 1836. For nine years, beginning in 1838, after he had composed the "Funeral March" (which later became part of the B-flat Minor Sonata), she was his closest associate. Despite failing health, the composer completed his twenty-four Preludes in Valldemosa, Majorca (one of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean).
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