Style, Aesthetics, and Reception
8. Imaginatio Crucis in the Last Song Melodia?
← 106 | 107 →8
Imaginatio Crucis in the Last Song Melodia?
It was probably Bernard Jacobson who first pointed out the existence of musical symbolism in Chopin’s works. In his analysis of The Ring song he wrote: “Musical symbolism is always a subjective matter, but it is hard not to detect it in the morbid involution of this song’s melody, which inevitably suggests the circularity of a ring”.212 If we agree with Jacobson that the melody of The Ring – as write Krystyna Tarnawska-Kaczorowska in her valuable monograph of the genre – “insistently twists, turns and rings”,213 we may not exclude that Chopin ‘encoded’ determined extramusical content through sound symbolism not only in this song, but in the entire genre. The existence of perceptibly obvious, almost banal musical correlates of categories of ‘locality’ or ‘Polishness’, evoking national folklore in such songs as Drinking Song, The Messenger, Lithuanian Song or Leaves are Falling would confirm the premise that the literary text sometimes inspired the composer, who was usually so reluctant to reveal his own emotions, to step outside the circle of Romantic absolute music, with all its consequences.
Let us now focus on the old music-rhetorical figure called imaginatio crucis. This figure, as we know, consists of a four-note imagination of the lying cross, clearly prefigured by symbols of musical notation. Can the interpretation of this figure – undoubtedly characterised by semantic heteronomy – in the works of Bach and Chopin enter the area of external work interpretation? For reasons obvious to any music historian, the analytical interpretation of this figure in...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.