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Nineteenth-Century Transcriptions of Works by Fryderyk Chopin

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Barbara Literska

This book is the first monographic study of nineteenth-century transcriptions of Chopin's music. The work is based on the quantitatively and qualitatively rich source material, which formed the basis for considerations from the perspective of social history, music analysis and aesthetics. Thanks to these multiple perspectives, as well as the time range and the source base, this study may contribute to the history of the reception of Chopin’s work in nineteenth-century culture; it may also prove significant in overcoming the attitude that aesthetically deprecates transcriptions and in adopting a different stance, regarding such adaptations as valuable texts of musical culture.

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Introduction

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The practice of drawing on other composers’ ideas and works is a universal phenomenon in the history of music. Many composers have enhanced their knowledge of the art by studying and copying the works of other masters. That engenders a desire to imitate the musical ideas of others and to recompose them in a more or less creative way. The process of transcribing the works of Fryderyk Chopin began in the 1830s and continues today, albeit in a modified form.

The subject of Chopin transcriptions, although present in the awareness of musicologists, has yet to be treated to a monographic study, being merely signalled in studies of a limited scope.1 This state of affairs may explain the lack of relevant documentation enabling the subject to be addressed from a broader research perspective. The first work to present the huge volume of Chopin transcriptions published during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the Katalog dzieł Fryderyka Chopina / A Catalogue of the Works of Frederick Chopin by Józef Michał Chomiński and Teresa Dalila Turło, published in 1990.2 That unique source of valuable information formed the inspiration and foundation for research into the little-known subject of Chopin transcriptions.

The present book is the first monographic study of Chopin transcriptions. For two main reasons – the specificities of the processes in music history and the huge amount of source material – the issue has been confined to nineteenth-century transcriptions.3 This book is based on the quantitatively...

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