Chopin's Polish Ballade Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-10-26
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Chopin's Second Ballade, Op. 38 is frequently performed, and takes only seven or so minutes to play. Yet the work remains very poorly understood--disagreement prevails on issues from its tonic and two-key structure to its posited relationship with the poems of Adam Mickiewicz. Chopin's Polish Ballade is a reexamination and close analysis of this famous work, revealing the Ballade as a piece with a powerful political story to tell. Through the general musical styles and specific references in the Ballade, which use both operatic strategies and approaches developed in programmatic piano pieces for amateurs, author Jonathan Bellman traces a clear narrative thread to contemporary French operas. His careful historical exegesis of previously ignored musical and cultural contexts brings to light a host of new insights about this remarkable piece, which, as Bellman shows, reflects the cultural preoccupations of the Polish emigres in mid-1830s Paris, pining with bitter nostalgia for a homeland now under Russian domination. This vital connection to the extramusical culture of its day forms the basis for a plausible relationship with the nationalistic poetry of Mickiewicz. Chopin's Polish Ballade also solves the long-standing conundrum of the two extant versions of the Ballade, making an important point about the flexible notion of "work" that Chopin embraced.

Author Biography

Jonathan D. Bellman, a pianist and musicologist, earned his doctorate at Stanford University and is now Professor and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. He has published articles in a variety of musicology journals. His primary research interests include nineteenth-century musical style and performance practices, especially involving Frederic Chopin and musical exoticism.

Table of Contents

List of Musical Examplesp. xv
Two Versions, Two Keys, and "Certain Poems of Mickiewicz"p. 3
Two Versionsp. 6
Two Keysp. 14
"Certain Poems of Mickiewicz"p. 19
Genesis of a Narrative Processp. 35
Stories in Tonesp. 35
Amateur Program Musicp. 40
Ballad Poetry and Musical Formp. 50
Hearing Konrad Wallenrod: The First Ballade, Op. 23p. 55
Overview and Stylistic Summary of the First Balladep. 55
Konrad Wallenrod: Plot and Structurep. 67
Konrad Wallenrod as Ballade Scenariop. 72
The Lay of Aldona's Fatep. 78
Op. 38 and the Genre Issuep. 86
A Formal Overview of Chopin's Second Balladep. 86
The Second Ballade and the Sonata Problemp. 90
Ballade as Genrep. 94
The Operatic Ballade to 1831p. 97
The Polish Pilgrims and the Operatic Imperativep. 111
A Pilgrims' Ballade; a Polish Balladep. 111
The Great Migration and Polish Culture in Exilep. 114
Personal Anguish and Literary Apotheosisp. 123
Sapienti Paucap. 132
Martyrdom and Exile: The Narrative of Chopin's F Major Balladep. 145
Internal Evidence I-the A Material: Sicilianop. 145
Internal Evidence II-the B Material: Stormp. 152
Internal Evidence III-the C Themep. 156
Chopin's Second Ballade as Narrative of National Martyrdomp. 160
Versions, Tonic Keys, and Mickiewicz Revisitedp. 170
The Forest and the Treesp. 173
Appendix: "A M. F. Chopin, sur sa Ballade polonaise, "by Félicien Mallefillep. 185
Bibliographyp. 185
Indexp. 193
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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