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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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4 Nineteenth-century transcriptions of works by Chopin as a form of the manifestation of artistic values in the musical culture of the nineteenth century: Trivialmusik?

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The presentation made thus far of the question of Chopin transcriptions from an historical-social and theoretical-analytical perspective entitles us to take an aesthetic look at the phenomenon. Aesthetic reflection concerns many aspects: the work of art, the artist’s creative process, aesthetic experience and the value judgments associated with it, and also the aesthetic value of the work of art.365 The work of art is widely considered to be an excellent product in artistic terms, but ‘there are weighty arguments in favour of including less successful creations, of inferior quality, within the sphere of aesthetics; the fact is that these works have often fulfilled an important role in the culture of their times, that they have been representative of their epoch and helped to spread new values. Taking these aspects into account, aesthetics ceases to be the study of timeless beauty; it becomes the study of the work of art realising historically changing values – the work which, rooted in a specific historical-cultural context, contains a range of qualities indicated not just by its own structure, but also by the needs of the society in which that work is created and lives.’366

Transcriptions are not self-contained works of art; they are replicas of the works of Fryderyk Chopin. For obvious reasons, therefore, we will pass over two issues here: transcriptions as works of art and transcribers’ creative process. We ←193 | 194→will also overlook value judgments and the appraisal of aesthetic experiences linked to the nineteenth-century reception of...

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