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					Chopin

10/5/2006 11:59:00 AM

Biography  1810-1849  Father was French, mother was polish, Bilingual  Grew up in Poland, his father was a professor  Studied at Paris Conservatory  Composition Teacher – Joseph Elsner  Graduated at 19 years old  Did a bit of concretizing – played in Vienna, heard Russia took over Poland  Age 21 – settled in Paris  Became well known in at the soirees (party in the evening) o Very elegant occasions o Highlights of the social calendar o Gave 30 public performances or so, typically played their own pieces Was never in good health o He was a fragile person o Didn‟t like the nerves with public performance o The opposite of Liszt Patrons of Chopin – Rothschilds – helped to sustain him financially Composers made a complete living through royalties Chopin only taught wealthy people Liszt didn‟t charge for lessons, very picky about who he would teach Liszt‟s musical lineage is incredible – amazing Who‟s who George Sand o Not her real name – Aurora Dudevant o Wore pants, smoked cigars o Original Women‟s Libber

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o Novelist o 10 Year relationship with Chopin o Controlled the relationship o The end of the relationship devastated him  Famous Portrait o By French Artist Delacroix Characteristics  Only wrote for piano mainly – we are lucky!

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Tried writing for other instruments, not very good at it Concertos – orchestra part is so weak Always lies well for the hands – he knew how to write to fit the hand In general, a mellow sound – called „the poet of the piano‟ Bel Canto – Beautiful singing o Bellini, Donizetti o Emphasizes the beauty of the human voice o Chopin‟s Nocturnes are like arias from this style Added more chromaticism, remote modulations Many seventh chords, unresolved chords A lot of quick notes, florid writing Form was not that great Wrote a lot of dances – Waltz, Mazurkas, Polonaises Separation between hands was large Lots of pedal – many indications written in! Rubato – comes from the Italian words (to rob) – taking away time Quotes o “The singing hand may deviate from strict time, but the accompanying hand must keep time.” o “Fancy a tree with its branches swayed by the wind – the stem is the steady time, and the waving leaves are the melodic inflections.” o This explains his overall concept of rubato Mozart and Chopin both influenced heavily by opera. Mazurkas – Polish Dance, country-type dance of the people, in triple meter, very specific – name of a region (The Mazur Region) – Within that region, there are even different types of Mazurkas

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Polonaise – Polish Dance, more noble and majestic, in triple meter Waltz – Austrian tradition mostly, but the whole world was writing waltzes, international dance Shorter Works  Mazurkas – dances – 3 different tempos, slow, medium, fast o Frequently triplets in the melody o Melody accent will often be on the 2nd or 3rd beat

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o Scale includes a raised fourth – Lydian mode (a melodic inflection) o Country Dances o Didn‟t invent them o Originally accompanied by bagpipe (sometimes adds a drone in the Mazurka) o Examples – o Not played often enough Polonaises – all the same march tempo Nocturne o A piece about the night (19th c. Poland) o Most famous by John Field (Irish)  beautiful spun out melody  accompaniment pattern (flowing) o Chopin wrote 21 nocturnes o Very florid melodic notes (colatura passages) o Most Famous o Have to use rubato in these pieces o Examples – Db (Op. 27, No. 2), c minor (Op. 48, No. 1)

Waltzes o Minute Waltz o C# minor waltz o A minor waltz Larger Works / Collections of Works  4 Scherzi – means a joke or light-hearted, focuses more on technical o No. 1 – b minor – very fast main theme, slow middle section o No. 2 – Bb minor – famous ending o No. 3 – c# minor o No. 4 4 Ballades – derived from ballads in poetry, basically a lengthy poem telling a story, Polish poet - Mickiewicz o No. 1 – g minor – a little bit like sonata / allegro, very exciting coda o No. 2 – F major – kind of a like a Barcarolle (piece on the water, boat song), in 6/8

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o No. 3 – Ab major – Like a rose opening – least dramatic of the four – more on the lyrical side o No. 4 – f minor – beautiful – based on the main melody, becomes very dramatic Polonaises o Approximately 16 o Last one is a Polonaise-Fantasy (freer form) – Op. 61  Last piano opus  Goes back and forth – considered one of his great pieces Preludes o 24 Preludes in Op. 28 o Order – C major, a minor, G major, e minor, D major…  Circle of 5ths o Whole Set takes 30 minutes to perform o Wrote these in a month off the island of Mayorka – off the coast of Spain o Went there with George Sand to relax (Rained the entire time they were there) – Chopin‟s health worsened Impromptus o Total of 4 – Fantasie Impromptu plus 3 others o Fantasie-Impromptu – ABA The Fantasie, Op. 49 o 15 minutes long o Starts out with Funeral March *Berceuse (Lullaby) o Repeated tonic-dominant Barcarolle Op. 60 o Just before the polonaise-fantasy o F# minor o Melody is duet – in 3rds o One of his masterpieces (10 minutes) Sonatas o 3 sonatas o First one is almost never played  Student work – written at a young age

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o Sonata #2 – Bb minor  Form is bad, beautiful melodies, great writing  Op. 35 (Funeral March sonata)  Middle section is hopeful  Last movement (75 measures) – the sound of dead leaves being blown by the wind in a cemetery o Sonata #4 – b minor, Op. 58  Huge piece  Wonderful 2 Concertos o Wonderful not because of form or orchestra part 5 Pieces with Piano and Orchestra

10/5/2006 11:59:00 AM

10/5/2006 11:59:00 AM


				
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