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



Example 1: Second subject of the first movement[55]


Second subject of first movement


Abraham, like critics before him, also felt that Chopin's sonata opus 35 was not comparable with the sonatas of the great classical tradition. His reasoning was that Chopin's conceptions of form and thematic development were too radically different from those of Beethoven and the earlier classical masters who had created the sonata, for him to be able to cast his ideas successfully in a classical form. He sees Chopin's sonatas as affairs of sequence, variation, and modulation, "...swept along by powerful winds of improvisatory inspiration and worked out with fine attention to detail."[56] In conclusion, he states that "...here again Chopin must be judged not as an inferior successor of Beethoven but as the brilliant forerunner of Liszt and Wagner."[57]


Thus far, a sample of opinions concerning Chopin's opus 35 have been presented and critically evaluated. It is evident that most critics had serious reservations about the work, the most common being a lack of structural coherence and thematic connection between the four movements of the sonata. In connection with the latter, it should be highlighted that this need not necessarily be a criterion for sonata-cycle status, as is the case in the sonatas of Haydn and Mozart. The writings of Hugo Leichtentritt can, however, be interpreted as the beginning of a turning point in the reception of this sonata, as well as the beginning of the shift from criticism to analysis. In Chapters


[55] Chopin, Fr�d�ric. Klaviersonate b-moll opus 35 (M�nchen: G. Henle Verlag, 1976), p. 5.

[56] Abraham, Gerald. Chopin's Musical Style (London: Oxford University Press, 1939), p. 107.

[57] ibid., p. 107.


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