Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Milewski, Barbara. “Chopin’s Mazurkas and the Myth of the Folk.” 19th-Century Music 23 (Autumn 1999): 113-35.

The supposedly authentic folk music traits of Chopin’s mazurkas, as well as the myth that Chopin avidly listened to folksongs played by Polish peasants, have convinced many scholars that Chopin’s mazurkas contained authentic Polish folk melodies. While the Mazurka, Op. 24, No. 2, and Mazurka Op. 68, No. 3 do contain Polish musical elements, Chopin was actually borrowing musical conventions from an urban tradition, not a rural or peasant one. The mazurka models that Chopin drew upon had originated as a genre of piano works that were popular in the salons in Warsaw. Polish parlors and theaters in the early nineteenth-century became places where composers could experiment with creating a national art music that often featured the supposedly folk characteristics found in Chopin’s mazurkas. This style of music, with distinctive Polish markers, was created by cultural elites as a part of an effort to forge a national tradition. Furthermore, many of the songs Chopin heard in the country had actually derived from urban songs, vaudeville, and operas that were written in a simple and folk-like fashion.

Works: Chopin: Mazurka, Op. 24, No. 2 (114-20), Mazurka, Op. 68, No. 3 (115-21); Karol Kurpiński: Wesele w Ojcowie (133-34).

Sources: Anonymous: Oj Magdalino (118-21).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Cynthia Dretel, Matthew G. Leone

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