ADVANTAGES

Many other composers, notably the supremely-loved and enthusiastically-admired Mozart and Bach, must have had a share in Chopin's development; but it cannot be said that they left a striking mark on his music, with regard to which, however, it has to be remembered that the degree of external resemblance does not always accurately indicate the degree of internal indebtedness. Bach's influence on Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and others of their contemporaries, and its various effects on their styles, is one of the curiosities of nineteenth century musical history; a curiosity, however, which is fully disclosed only by subtle analysis. Field and especially Hummel are those musicians who—more, however, as pianists than as composers (i.e., more by their pianoforte language than by their musical thoughts)—set the most distinct impress on Chopin's early virtuosic style, of which we see almost the last in the concertos, where it appears in a chastened and spiritualised form very different from the materialism of the Fantasia (Op. 13) and the Krakowiak (Op. 14). Indeed, we may say of this style that the germ, and much more than the germ, of almost every one of its peculiarities is to be found in the pianoforte works of Hummel and Field; and this statement the concertos of these masters, more especially those of the former, and their shorter pieces, more especially the nocturnes of the latter, bear out in its entirety. The wide-spread broken chords, great skips, wreaths of rhythmically unmeasured ornamental notes, simultaneous combinations of unequal numbers of notes (five or seven against four, for instance), &c., are all to be found in the compositions of the two above-named pianist-composers. Chopin's style, then, was not original? Most decidedly it was. But it is not so much new elements as the development and the different commixture, in degree and kind, of known elements which make an individual style—the absolutely new being, generally speaking, insignificant compared with the acquired and evolved. The opinion that individuality is a spontaneous generation is an error of the same kind as that imagination has nothing to do with memory. Ex nihilo nihil fit. Individuality should rather be regarded as a feminine organisation which conceives and brings forth; or, better still, as a growing thing which feeds on what is germane to it, a thing with self-acting suctorial organs that operate whenever they come in contact with suitable food. A nucleus is of course necessary for the development of an individuality, and this nucleus is the physical and intellectual constitution of the individual. Let us note in passing that the development of the individuality of an artistic style presupposes the development of the individuality of the man's character. But not only natural dispositions, also acquired dexterities affect the development of the individuality of an artistic style. Beethoven is orchestral even in his pianoforte works. Weber rarely ceases to be operatic. Spohr cannot help betraying the violinist, nor Schubert the song-composer. The more Schumann got under his command the orchestral forces, the more he impressed on them the style which he had formed previously by many years of playing and writing for the pianoforte. Bach would have been another Bach if he had not been an organist. Clementi was and remained all his life a pianist. Like Clementi, so was also Chopin under the dominion of his instrument. How the character of the man expressed itself in the style of the artist will become evident when we examine Chopin's masterpieces. Then will also be discussed the influence on his style of the Polish national music.

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