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



Breitkopf and Härtel compilation; this surely provides significant evidence that contradicts the idea that Chopin could not master the large-scale classical forms.


Leichtentritt's major analytical study of virtually all Chopin's published works further attests to Chopin's "honorary membership" of the German tradition. Jim Samson notes that a work of this magnitude based upon a single composer was rare at this time, and that few composers were given such an honour.[51] He adds, "it was truly a monument to a recently established and increasingly specialised Musikwissenschaft."[52]


In spite of Leichtentritt's objection to the idea that opus 35 had a imperfect structure, negative criticisms continued in following years, although by the 1940's attitudes had begun to change. Henry Bidou maintains that "[i]t is true that [Chopin's sonata opus 35] is not very coherent. Schumann has pointed out the defect in its composition."[53] Gerald Abraham also considers the first movement of opus 35 as being "something less than first-rate Chopin."[54] He thought it unusual that Chopin employed unmodified four- or eight-bar phrases as well as undisguised squareness of phrasing for such a long period. This is evident in the second subject of the first movement, which can be seen as two 4-bar phrases followed by an 8-bar phrase, as shown in Example 1:



[51] Samson, Jim. 'Chopin Reception: Theory, History, Analysis,' Chopin Studies II ed. Samson, J., Rink, J. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 7.

[52] ibid., p. 7.

[53] Bidou, Henry. Chopin, tr. Phillips, C.A. (New York: Tudor Publishing Co., 1936), p. 189.

[54] Abraham, Gerald. Chopin's Musical Style (London: Oxford University Press, 1939), p. 59.


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