Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bellman, Jonathan. “Chopin and His Imitators: Notated Emulations of the ‘True Style’ of Performance.” 19th-Century Music 24 (Fall 2000): 149-60.

Many of Chopin’s contemporaries, who heard him play, documented the uniqueness of his pianism. Soon after his death, admirers and students debated “the true style” of Chopin. Although we do not have an actual aural record of Chopin’s performance, we can catch a glimpse of it through a few contemporaries who imitated his style in their written compositions, which provide a fascinating document of Chopin’s unwritten improvisation. Aspects of Chopin’s phrasing, melodic inflection, articulation, and treatment of fiorature are imitated in these works. Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s Ricordati of 1855-1856, designated a nocturne, incorporates Chopin’s rhetorical phrasing and indicates such appropriate places with written instructions such as piangendo, con lagrime, parlando, con amore, and others. In his Nocturne from Op. 21, Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmermann imitates Chopin's bel canto style. Moreover, in a version of the Nocturne included in his 1840 piano treatise Encyclopédie du pianiste compositeur, Zimmermann added a third staff of a Chopinesque fioriture as an example of realizing ornamentation on original melody. Edouard Wolff captures elements Chopin’s improvisatory technique in the arpeggiated passages in his Hommage à Chopin of 1852, also designated a “Reverie-Nocturne.” Chopin’s imitators also notated Chopinesque articulations, especially the gradations between staccato and full legato. In their eyes, Chopin’s written compositions are reflections and echoes of his improvisation.

Works: Gottschalk: Ricordati (153-54); Pierre-Joseph-Guillaume Zimmerman: Nocturne from 24 Etudees, Op. 21 (155-56), L’Encyclopèdie du pianist compositeur (157-58); Edouard Wolff: Romance, Op. 11, No. 1 (155-57), Hommage à Chopin, Op. 169 (157-59).

Index Classifications: 1800s

Contributed by: Tong Cheng Blackburn

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