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








As noted earlier, sources prior to 1940 show reservations about Chopin's sonata opus 35. This is not to say that nothing positive was to be said; on the contrary, many were quite complimentary about certain aspects of the work, as was Schumann for that matter. Moreover, counter-arguments to Schumann's critique were appearing, the importance of which can be noted in subsequent articles which used these propositions as a basis for further expansion.


In his book Frederick Chopin as a man and musician, Frederick Niecks begins his discussion of opus 35 by critically analysing Liszt's view of the work quoted on page 13. Referring to Liszt's statement that the "...Concertos and Sonatas are beautiful indeed, but we may discern in them more effort than inspiration," Niecks proposes that there "...is no lack of inspiration here, nor are there traces of painful, unrewarded effort."[33] Furthermore, he adds, "...each of the four pieces of which the sonata consists is full of vigour, originality and interest."


This praise soon gives way, however, to a reservation as to whether these four pieces can be called a sonata. Niecks questions whether Chopin first intended to write a sonata, or whether these four movements simply came into being "without any predestination, and were afterwards put under one cover."[34] He does admit, though, that "...there is something gigantic in the work which...impresses one powerfully," and objects to Schumann's abhorrence of the third movement, although he does not offer reasons therefor.[35]


[33] Niecks, Frederick. Frederick Chopin as a Man and Musician, Vol II (London: Novello, Ewer and Co., 1890), p. 225.

[34] ibid., p. 225.

[35] ibid., p. 226.


Previous      Next






©2010 Jonathan Oshry • joshry@hotmail.com