Polish Music Journal
Vol. 3, No. 2, Winter 2000. ISSN 1521—6039

ABSTRACTS OF ARTICLES
Vol. 3, No. 2 (Winter 2000)

Homma Parakilas Rosenblum



Martina Homma: Witold Lutosławski's Trois poèmes d'Henri Michaux: The Sketches and the Work

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James Parakilas: ""Nuit plus belle qu'un beau jour:" Poetry, Song, and the Voice in the Piano Nocturne"

It is easier to assert that Chopin wrote the defining examples of the piano nocturne than to say how they define it, since his nocturnes overlap so frequently with other piano genres—including the barcarole, the lullaby, and the march—especially in rhythmic nature. A way to come to terms with this ambiguity, as well as with other questions about the generic identity of the piano nocturne, is to investigate their vocal model: not the operatic model that is most often considered to have inspired the lyrical style of piano nocturnes, Chopin's in particular, but the vocal nocturne, for which the piano nocturne (starting with Field) was named. The vocal nocturne of the early nineteenth century was a Parisian specialty, a duet set to a love poem, but not a love duet—rather, a duet for two female or one female and one male singer, rapturously expressing the sentiments of the poems—usually male speaker. The piano nocturnes of Chopin derive their characteristic duet melodies and rapturous expression from that model. More surprising, perhaps, is that the characteristic rhythmic types of the Chopin nocturnes--such as the barcarole and march rhythms--also find their source in the Parisian vocal nocturne, where they are the musical embodiment of metaphors for love found in the poetic texts.

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Sandra P. Rosenblum: "'Effusions of a Master Mind:' The Reception of Chopin's Music in Nineteenth-Century America"

The documented history of Chopin's music in America began at a private party in New York City in October 1839, when Ludwig Rakemann, a German pianist, played "some nocturnes of a composer known here but to few—Chopin, a Pole." At a subsequent public appearance Rakemann played "a Nocturne and two Mazurkas," thus introducing Chopin through genres later valued for two outstanding attributes of his unique music: lyricism and Polish nationalism. This paper investigates the previously unexplored and changing responses to Chopin's works by pianists, critics, audiences, and music publishers during the period from 1839-1900.

Each decade presents a different stage in the growing knowledge and reception of Chopin's music. The early performing and teaching of a few German immigrants led by Otto Dresel (some trained at the Leipzig Conservatory under Mendelssohn and Schumann); the writing of Europeans and of European-born or trained critics living in America (e.g., Henry Watson, Roger Willis); and the remarkable work of John Sullivan Dwight all played important roles in preparing the ready acceptance that Chopin's music generally received here. Topics discussed include the gradual dissemination of Chopin performance from New York City and Boston outwards in the young republic, the gradual changes in the repertoire performed and its reception by critics and listeners, and the diffusion of interest in this music from the elite class of concert-goers to the average American pianist at home—sometimes aided by simplified arrangements.

Critics's reviews of performances in music periodicals and daily newspapers, and their essays about Chopin in journals of broad intellectual appeal such as the "Atlantic Monthly" provide ample evidence of their efforts to inform readers and of their varying opinions about both the music and the way in which it was performed. Diaries, letters, and writings from other population groups and the publication history of Chopin's music in America add voices from the audience and commercial sector.

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Editor: Maja Trochimczyk. Publisher: Polish Music Center, 2000.
Design: Maja Trochimczyk & Marcin Depinski. Editorial Assistance: Blanka Sobus.
Comments and inquiries by e-mail: polmusic@email.usc.edu