Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - Late 19th & Early 20th reception



Chapters Seven and Eight tend to support Kelley's general view that Chopin made use of classical themes in his forms such as the sonata.


Like Niecks, James Huneker agrees with Schumann's doubts as to whether the four movements collectively can be called a sonata, stating that:


Schumann says that Chopin here "bound together four of his maddest children," and he is not astray. He thinks the march does not belong to the work. It certainly was written before its companion movements.[41]


It is interesting to note the varying interpretations of Schumann's analogy of the four movements of opus 35 to Chopin's children. Some writers, such as Huneker and Hadden, refer to four of Chopin's "maddest" children, while others such as Jonson and Newman use the word "wildest." These two adjectives clearly have different connotations. The former seems to imply that all four movements are of a crazed or deranged nature, while the latter emphasises rather their untamed, savage character. Save perhaps for the Finale, the use of the word "mad" would seem to be incorrect; the first three movements are not deranged or out of the ordinary. "Wild" possibly more correctly depicts the passionate, untamed nature of the first movement, the darkness of the Scherzo, the morbid vision of death of the Funeral March, and the irony of the Finale.

Huneker praises the quality of each movement as a separate entity, but adds that these four movements "have no common life." He is of the opinion that the last two movements have nothing in common with the first two, although as a group they do "hold together." Expanding on this comment, he states that "Notwithstanding the grandeur and beauty of the grave, the power and passion of the scherzo, this Sonata in B flat minor is not more a sonata than it is a sequence of ballades and scherzi."[42]


The manner in which Huneker states above that the march was written before the other movements seems to suggest that he, like many other critics of the day, believed that it was simply added on to the rest of the work. It is interesting to note how this


[41] Huneker, James. Chopin: The Man and His Music (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1900), pp. 166-167.

[42] ibid., p. 167.


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