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VII. FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN
“The Poet of the Piano” – only great
composer who wrote almost
exclusively for piano
Raised in Warsaw, Poland
Main airport in Poland is named after
him
Moved to Paris at 21, stayed the rest
of his life
Friends with Victor Hugo (poet),
Delacroix (painter, Liszt and Berlioz
Shy, disliked crowds, preferred to play
in salons rather than concert halls
Frail physique
Difficulty drawing big sounds out of the
piano
Known for tone, rhythmic flexibility,
atmospheric use of the pedal
Elegant, fashionable
Lived in luxury
Met Aurore Dudevant
Well-known novelist, pen
name: George Sand
Feminist, often wore men’s clothing,
smoked cigars, fought for sexual
freedom
Became lovers when Chopin was 28
and she was 34
Chopin thrived on her care,
composing many of his greatest
works in the 9 years they lived
together
After their split, his health deteriorated
and he composed very little
Died of tuberculosis at 39
Chopin’s Music
Relatively small body of work
compared to other composers
Most pieces short, but exhibit infinite
variety of moods
Elegant and graceful
Seen as the composer who best
wrote for piano and its expressive
ability
Music lends well to rubato for
heightened expression
Lends a poetic and improvisatory
quality to his music
LISTENING TO CHOPIN
Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2
Written when he was about 20
Nocturne – (“night piece”) slow, lyrical,
intimate composition for piano
Books pg. 302
LISTENING TO CHOPIN
Étude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12
(Revolutionary)
Étude – study piece designed to help a
performer master specific technical
difficulties
The Revolutionary develops speed and
endurance in the left hand
Books pg. 304
VIII. FRANZ LISZT
1811-1886
Handsome, long-haired, magnetic
personality
Born in Hungary
Studied in Vienna, met Beethoven
and Schubert
By age 19, already known as a
brilliant pianist
Incredible showman, irresistable to
women
Age 36: abandoned traveling, became
court conductor for Duke of Weimar
Composed orchestral works
Taught students free of charge
One of the most unselfish and generous
musicians who ever lived
Was known to provide financial support
to Wagner
Active writer, publishing music
criticism and books on Chopin and
other topics
1861 – resigned Weimar, went to
Rome, took holy orders in 1865
Contemporaries thought this strange
“Don Juan: Holy Man”
Composed masses, oratorios
Last 17 years of his life: traveled
again
Wrote some experimental piano music
that foreshadowed some 20th c. music
Liszt’s Music
Controversial—some think it’s vulgar,
bombastic; others revel in its extroverted
romantic rhetoric
Found new ways to exploit piano—
unprecedented range of dynamics
Created symphonic poem, or tone poem—
a one-movement orchestral composition
based to some extent on literary or pictorial
ideas
Highly influential on other composers
LISTENING TO LISZT
Transcendental Étude No. 10 in F
Minor
(1851)
Books pg. 309-310
IX. FELIX MENDELSSOHN
1809-1847
Born in Hamburg, Germany
From wealthy, famous family
Father: banker
Grandfather: Jewish philosopher Moses
Mendelssohn
Age 9: brilliant pianist
Age 13: had written symphonies,
concertos, sonatas, vocal works
Age 20: conducted Bach’s St.
Matthew Passion—first time since
Bach’s death, started Baroque revival
Often performed as pianist/organist
Age 26: became conductor of the
Leipzig Orchestra—transformed it into
one of the finest groups in Europe
Also painter, writer, brilliant
conversationalist in 4 languages
Happily married, father of 4
Died at age 38 of a stroke
LISTENING TO MENDELSSOHN
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in
E Minor, Op. 64
Books pgs. 312-316
HOMEWORK
Compare and contrast the following
composers in 3 categories:
personal life, performance abilities,
compositional style
Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Felix
Mendelssohn
This Thursday: Group work in the
Media Center