Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - Late reception 1940-1996



sonata."[94] He also recognises the significance of this textbook description as being "a fair abstraction of the still fluid Classic forms."[95]


The phrase "still fluid Classic forms" has particular relevance here. Sonatas were, for obvious reasons, not subject to rigorous tests of adherence to textbook sonata form until 1826; more probably not until the appearance of Marx's writings on sonata form in 1845. Composers around the turn of the nineteenth century were writing sonatas under the influence of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The codification of sonata form complicated the situation somewhat in that many of the Viennese sonatas did not conform thereto. Accordingly, composers were faced with a dilemma and were possibly unsure as to how the sonata was to develop further. This could be a reason for the noticeable decline in volume of sonata output in the 1830's.[96]


The codification process, then, could be viewed as having an obstructive effect on the "still fluid Classic forms." That being so, it is possible that Romantic composers felt the need to move away from textbook sonata form so as to maintain the fluidity and continual development of sonata form and the sonata cycle. Chopin could be viewed as an integral part of this process; in fact, Newman singles out four composers as the main cornerstones of the Romantic sonata: Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Brahms.[97] He argues that their importance can be compared to that of Corelli in the Baroque era, and to Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in the Classical era.


It would seem, then, that Chopin subconsciously assimilated the great sonatas of his predecessors over time and adapted the sonata to suit his own style. Although Reicha's account of the "fully-developed binary design" was published around thirteen years before Chopin composed his B flat Minor sonata, and that frequent references were made from the start of the nineteenth century to "the usual form of the sonata,"[98] the writings of Marx and Czerny had not yet appeared in print. In addition, as noted earlier, theorists devoted "...the lion's share of attention to the first fast movement, sometimes to the almost total neglect of the other movements."[99] It was


[94] ibid., p .31.

[95] ibid., p. 31.

[96] See page 28.

[97] Newman, William S. The Sonata Since Beethoven (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1972),. p. 10.

[98] ibid., p. 34.

[99] ibid., p. 31.


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