Style, Aesthetics, and Reception
7. Contribution to Western European Romanticism
On the 25th March 1836, François-Joseph Fétis asked Fryderyk Chopin, then aged 26, to fill in questionnaire for his Biographie universelle des musiciens, which this eminent musicographer published in Paris between 1833 and 1844.175 It was a valid confirmation that within a few years of his arrival to Paris, the Polish composer’s position in the cultural capital of the world was firmly established. After 1831, Chopin’s works were disseminated by the leading publishing houses in Paris, Berlin and London, while a thoughtful social and professional strategy ensured that he remained one of the central figures of the musical life in Paris. Heine wrote emphatically about Chopin:
“[…] Yes, we must attribute genius to Chopin in the full sense of the word: he is not merely a virtuoso, he is also a poet, he can bring to our intuition the poetry that lives in his soul, he is a tone-poet, and nothing equals the pleasure he creates for us when he sits at the piano and improvises. Then he is neither Pole, nor Frenchman, nor German – then he betrays a much higher origin and we recognise that he hails from the land of Mozart, Raffael, Goethe […]”.176
What are, then, Chopin’s offers for Europe? It is a thorny issue. We, musicologists, struggle to examine Chopin’s proposal in any other context than that of European music. His work lies at the epicentre of the history of European ← 95 | 96 →music in the 19th century, just as that...
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