THE ROMANTIC ERA
For repertory ideas see:Guide to the Pianist's Repertoire by Maurice Hinson: 1st edition, 1973, Indiana U. Press, ISBN 0-253-32700-8; 2nd edition, Indiana U. Press, call # ML 128 P3 H5 1987; 3rd edition due out in February, 2001. Check your local library, order from your favorite local bookstore, or order online.
This book is a must-read for all who wish to get in touch with our real traditions:
"After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance" by Kenneth Hamilton
Reviewer Susan Tomes writes: "Throughout the 'golden age' of Romantic piano-playing, it was not usual to perform whole sonatas as these were thought too severe. Improvisation was popular, as was the habit of 'preluding', or making up musical links between items. Players might give themselves breaks while they chatted with friends in the audience. Most pianists were also composers, and routinely included their own pieces. Playing from memory was not required, and sometimes even frowned on."
In his book, Hamilton points out that "anxiety over wrong notes is a relatively recent psychosis, and playing entirely from memory a relatively recent requirement."
CHOPIN - POET OF THE PIANOBest book on how Chopin played and taught is Chopin: Pianist and Teacher As Seen by his Pupils, edited by Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger and translated by Naomi Shohet, Krysia Osostowicz, Roy Howat (ISBN 0-521-36709-3, 1989 paperback edition, Cambridge University Press).
Chopin was known to have improvised tastefully and discretely, particularly in his nocturnes, waltzes and mazurkas. The most instructive and stunning example is in the Wiener Urtext Edition of the Complete Nocturnes, Edited by Jan Ekier (UT 50065). See the Nocturne in E-Flat Major, Op. 9/2 with authentic Chopin variants. You can order this and other music from any music store.
To purchase a copy of Arthur Houle's Chopin Nocturnes CD (which includes the variant version of Op. 9/2 along with an alternate cadenza not shown in the Wiener Edition!), contact Dr. Houle
For those who wish to do extensive, advanced Chopin research, the following book is also recommended:Frédéric Chopin: A Guide to Research. By William Smialek. Guy A. Marco, General Editor. Garland Publishing, Inc., 2000. Hardcover, 191 pages; ISBN: 0-8153-2180-5.
Review by Arthur HouleThis is number fifty in a series of Resource Manuals on composers from Scarlatti to Bartók. Each presents selective, annotated lists of writings and compositions, biographical sketches, library resource suggestions, etc. Since the Chopin Guide is intentionally not exhaustive, I am tempted to recommend it more for students than scholars. Certainly it should be prized by serious students (one hopes they can afford the serious price, however). But this would be selling it short, for there is enough here to augment virtually anyone's research. Immediately upon perusing this book I enthusiastically sought out several cited articles. The guide is well organized and easy to use, with one exception. The discography lists CD recordings of all Chopin works ("not merely the most popular compositions"). This is appreciated, but because the listing is by performer only (not cross-referenced by pieces), it is somewhat tedious finding recordings of specific works.
Top Chopin researchers (Eigeldinger, Ekier, Hedley, Kallberg, Kiorpes, etc.) are well represented, though I was surprised at the complete omission of Sandra Rosenblum. While her main area of research is Classic period, she has, at the very least, written one of the best articles ever on Chopin pedaling (J. Musicological Research, '96, Vol. 16, pp. 41-61).
The section on editions does not mention Wiener Editions, notwithstanding the superlative scholarship (e.g., penciled changes by Chopin, often absent in Henle Editions). Upcoming Peters Editions may surpass everything now noted. These are small reservations, however; a limited guide cannot include everything and must make choices that will not fully satisfy everyone. This superb reference is, like any selective compendium, merely a starting point for research. But it will point you in enough directions to get you just about anywhere and everywhere on the subject of Chopin.
Chopin's "ideal" piano sounded quite different from today's grand. Perhaps the best period instrument recording is that of pianist Trevor Stephenson, whose instrument recreates the delicate crystalline sound of the piano in Chopin's day:
"Music of Frederic Chopin" CD
Trevor Stephenson, fortepiano
Light & Shadow
5741 Forsythia Place
Madison, WI 53705
Recordings by Arthur Houle
• Polonaise in A Major (" Military "), Op. 40, No. 1 by Frederick Chopin (with discreet variants on repeats by Houle), live performance, Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy, Boise, Idaho, 2-8-04
• Polonaise in A-flat by Frederick Chopin, live performance, Mesa State College, 2-10-08
• Nocturne in E-Flat Major by Frederick Chopin, Op. 9, No. 2, live performance with authentic embellishments by Chopin and some by Houle, Mesa State College, 9-29-06
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