The Cambridge Companion to Chopin
For a century and a half Chopin's music has been played incessantly, yet the spell remains, and the 'Chopin recital', whoever the pianist, still fills the concert halls. This Companion is designed to provide the enquiring music-lover with helpful insights into a musical style that recognises no contradiction between the accessible and the sophisticated, between the popular and the significant. On the uniqueness of that style there has long been agreement. One of the aims of this Companion is to identify some of its sources, referring both to the social history of early nineteenth-century piano music (chapter 1) and to the music of Chopin's predecessors (chapters 2 and 3). The early music and the growth to stylistic maturity are examined in chapter 4. Part 2 of the Companion profiles some of the mature music in a language designed to be intelligible to the interested layman as well as to the musician. There are re-evaluations of Chopin's most 'epic' statements (chapter 5) as well as his most 'epigrammatic' (chapter 6). There is an account of his relation to Polish folk music in the dance pieces (chapter 7) and there is a fresh look at one of the more controversial aspects of his art, his handling of the sonata (chapter 8). Several facets of the afterlife of Chopin's music are examined in part 3. There is reception through performance (chapter 9), reception through criticism (chapters 10 and 11) and reception through compositional influence (chapters 11 and 12). As these later chapters indicate, Chopin's art left its mark both on the Trivialmusik of the later nineteenth century and on the emerging Modernism of the new century.
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