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A Crash Course in Chopinology

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Chopin 1810–2010: Ideas, Interpretations, Influence, 2 vols., ed. IrenaPoniatowska and ZofiaChechlińska. Warsaw: The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, 2017. 587 + 672 pages. €45.

The Lyric and the Vocal Element in Instrumental Music of the Nineteenth Century, ed. KamilaStępień-Kutera. Warsaw: The Fryderyk Chopin Institute, 2017. 344 pages. €12.

The Chopin Review, gen. ed. JohnRink. 2019–.

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 2020

Jonathan Kregor*
University of


As the Western world celebrated the dawn of its third millennium, devotees of nineteenth-century art music started to prepare for a spate of bicentennials. By 2013, Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner had been honoured with symposia, concerts, exhibitions and premieres the world over. These events offered opportunities for participants to take stock of who these composers once were, who they are now, and how they might endure to the next milestone anniversary.

Review Essay
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press.

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1 Chapters in C2010 are in either English, French or German; any translations of German or French excerpts in this review are my own.

2 This neologism derives from a series of conferences organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute between 2016 and 2020. Further information can be found at

3 C2010 is broadly organized into four sections: ‘Chopin's Personality, Heritage and Milieu’, ‘Interpretations of Chopin's Music’, ‘Chopin in Contemporary Culture’, and ‘The Influence of Chopin and his Music’. The final section encompasses the entire second volume.

4 Korespondencja Fryderyka Chopina, ed. Bronisław Edward Sydow and Janusz Miketta, 2 vols. (Warsaw: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1955).

5 To date, two volumes, covering the years 1816–1831 and 1831–1839, have appeared in print. See Korespondencja Fryderyka Chopina, ed. Zofia Helman, Zbigniew Skowron, and Hanna Wróblewska-Straus (Warsaw: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2009–).

6 The gold standard among English-language scholarship is Kallberg, Jeffrey, Chopin at the Boundaries: Sex, History, and Musical Genre (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996)Google Scholar.

8 See, for instance, Finlow, Simon, ‘The Twenty-Seven Etudes and Their Antecedents’, in The Cambridge Companion to Chopin, ed. Samson, Jim (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992): 51–77Google Scholar, and especially Goldberg, Halina, Music in Chopin's Warsaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008): 192ffCrossRefGoogle Scholar.

9 Joanne Cormac's detailed study of Liszt's Weimar years shows that the structural and thematic properties of many of the symphonic poems were as much a product of circumstance as they were of long-envisioned design. See Cormac, , Liszt and the Symphonic Poem (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

10 In what is presumably an editorial oversight, Tuchowski's chapter concludes with the exact same paragraph as Chechlińska's (cf. 1:352 and 1:372).

11 A far more detailed consideration of this issue can be found in Davis, Andrew, ‘Chopin and the Romantic Sonata: The First Movement of Op. 58’, Music Theory Spectrum 36/2 (2014): 270–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

12 Regarding this specific connection, see Gallagher, Daniel, ‘Between Paris and Leipzig: Encountering Chopin in the music of Clara Schumann’, in Chopin in Paris: The 1830s, ed. Szklener, Arthur and Chylińska, Magdalena (Warsaw: Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina, 2006): 9–22Google Scholar. The various codes associated with the nocturne / notturno are dissected by Jeffrey Kallberg in ‘The Harmony of the Tea Table: Gender and Ideology in the Piano Nocturne’, in Chopin at the Boundaries, 30–61.

13 Boris Schwarz, revised by Sigrid Wiesmann, ‘Bortkiewicz [Bortkievich], Sergei [Sergey] Eduardovich’, Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online,

14 An important exception is Bońkowski, Wojciech, Editions of Chopin's Works in the Nineteenth Century: Aspects of Reception History (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

15 As of 6 November 2019, complete issues of The Chopin Review are available for free at