Chopin's twenty-four Préludes remain as mysterious today as when they were newly published. What prompted Franz Liszt and others to consider Chopin's Préludes to be compositions in their own right rather than introductions to other works? What did set Chopin's Préludes so drastically apart from their forerunners? What exactly was 'the morbid, the feverish, the repellent' that Schumann heard in Opus 28, in that 'wild motley' of 'strange sketches' and 'ruins'? Why did Liszt and another, anonymous, reviewer publicly suggest that Lamartine's poem Les Préludes served as an inspiration for Chopin's Opus 28? And, if that is indeed the case, how did the poem affect the structure and the thematic contents of Chopin's Préludes? And, lastly, is Opus 28 a random assortment of short pieces or a cohesive cycle? In this monograph, richly illustrated with musical examples, Anatole Leikin combines historical perspectives, hermeneutic and thematic analyses, and a range of practical implications for performers to explore these questions and illuminate the music of one of the best loved collections of music for the piano.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface; The traditions, the innovations, and the predicaments; Lamartine’s Les Préludes: the lyrics and the milieu; The Mallorca factor; Lamartine’s Les Préludes and Chopin’s Préludes; Deciphering the Préludes; Further thoughts; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
Anatole Leikin is Professor of Music at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has published in various musicological journals and essay collections worldwide and recorded piano works of Scriabin, Chopin, and Cope. His book The Performing Style of Alexander Scriabin was published by Ashgate. He also serves as an editor for The Complete Chopin - A New Critical Edition.
"The rich, well-elaborated context… The meticulous motivic analysis is impressive… Most stunning of all is the cultural panorama… At some moments, it is even as if this is not a twenty-first-century author writing, but an intellectual from Chopin’s milieu who survived the composer… really a great discovery…the book is written in the form of a musicological detective story… Each new chapter strikes with the unexpectedness of its approaches and received data… The book is a piece of musicological artistry." Min-Ad: Israel Studies in Musicology Online
"...an effulgent example of stellar research and eloquent writing... a uniquely interdisciplinary examination of Chopin's Preludes that never ceases to hold one's attention... a persuasive and carefully structured argument... engrossing... an extraordinary musical discovery... astonishing... a strikingly original achievement... highly recommended for pianists and piano teachers, for music libraries, and for academic libraries serving music programs." Music Reference Services Quarterly
"The Mystery of Chopin’s Préludes provides valuable insights into our structural and aesthetic understanding of Chopin’s preludes. Leikin presents a compelling case that the Dies Irae enshrouds Chopin’s preludes, thereby infusing these 'tone-painting reflections of Lamartine’s poem' with an aesthetic of death. Leikin’s systematic illustration of the Dies Irae motive establishes this book as a definitive resource about Chopin’s preludes for performers, scholars, and listeners." Notes
"Anatole Leikin’s The Mystery of Chopin’s Préludes offers a far-reaching study of one of Chopin’s most famous opuses, testifying to the expansive hermeneutic and analytic terrain the Préludes offer… He develops an original interpretation of the Préludes, one that…suggests links between Chopin’s literary environment and the composition itself… Leikin draws on literary analogies in order to shed new light on long-standing issues surrounding Op. 28… One of The Mystery of Chopin’s Préludes greatest merits is to guide its readers along many fascinating paths Leikin’s deep engagement with the work has followed." Ad Parnassum