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Between Romanticism and Modernism

Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s Compositional Œuvre


Boguslaw Raba

This is the first monograph on the Polish composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941). It aspires to be part of the process of restoring his compositional legacy to European musical culture. Reinterpreting the legend surrounding the great Pole, the study is based on Paderewskis works that are listed in the Paderewski catalogue, but also includes sketches, unfinished pieces and student exercises. Raba’s analysis and interpretation of the composer’s work is carried out in formal-structural, stylistic-critical and aesthetic contexts, revising the image of the composer, that has been distorted in the historical reception of his œuvre.
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Chapter 4: Mature Romantic Output (1884–96)


Chapter 4:Mature Romantic Output (1884–96)

4.1Relative historicism: stile antico – stile moderno – Humoresques de concert, Op. 14

Strasbourg Cathedral – that Gothic masterpiece newly rediscovered in the aesthetic contemplation of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe as a symbol of Romantic historicism, soon became also a symbol of the Romantic interpretation of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The genius loci also brought Paderewski to that city – a sojourn that resulted soon afterwards in the Humoresques de concert, Op. 14. The historical relativisation connected with the humoresque genre indicates that the idea of historicism represented in this set was treated with distance.203 Yet artistic licence did not exempt Paderewski from imparting to his work an elaborate form.

The set comprises two books: works in old style (à l’antique) and in modern style (moderne). The historical relativisation, present in the arrangement of both triptychs, evokes the representative character of the three works in old style. The distance between the musical worlds of the two sets eliminates the possibility of neoclassical assimilation; through the accentuation of musical erudition, the collection becomes a fusion of the fashionable ideas of historicism with a Romantic poetic. Each of the miniatures conceals the figure of a different great composer from the past: the Minuet in the style of Mozart, the Bachian Sarabande and the Caprice à la Scarlatti. Typical of nineteenth-century historicism is a juxtaposition that is impossible to justify in historical and stylistic terms. In essence, however, the set forms a coherent whole...

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