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Chopin and His World$
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Jonathan D. Bellman and Halina Goldberg

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691177755

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691177755.001.0001

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Chopin and Improvisation

Chopin and Improvisation

(p.249) Chopin and Improvisation
Chopin and His World

John Rink

Princeton University Press

This chapter talks about how the conventional practices and values of classical performance today differ radically from those of Chopin's musical world. Perhaps the most fundamental difference concerns the significant role played by improvisation in public and private musical circles during the first few decades of the nineteenth century. Whereas modern performers tend to ascribe authority to the inferred intentions of composers and to the notational artifacts that have been handed down over successive generations, musicians some two hundred years ago approached written texts with much greater flexibility and freedom. The chapter shows how, during Chopin's lifetime, professional performers sought to dazzle their audiences with daring improvisations on themes proposed by individual listeners and on familiar melodies drawn from folk traditions or the latest operas.

Keywords:   classical performance, Chopin, improvisation, conventional practices, musical circles, modern performers, folk traditions, operas

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