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



sonata form alone, unless one rules that "...a sonata cannot exist except in the form fixed for all eternity by certain older masters."[61] He criticises Schumann's abhorrence of the Funeral March, stating that Schumann missed the whole point of the sonata in that the Funeral March is the central core of the whole work. Like many other theorists in the twentieth century, Hedley believed that it was from the March (written two years before the other movements) that the first movement and Scherzo were derived in that it stimulated Chopin "to embody within the framework of a sonata the emotions which the vision of death aroused in him."[62]


Herbert Weinstock also attacks Schumann's critique of opus 35. He maintains that "[t]he literary-minded Schumann would have been less disturbed if Chopin had given the four separate movements coined romantic names.... Calling the B-flat minor a sonata was neither caprice nor jest: it is a sonata by Chopin."[63] From a performance point of view, Weinstock believes that if the work is played so that it sounds like four separate pieces, the fault is that of the pianist, and not Chopin. He adds that if he "...heard it played...with the complete, over-all, four-movement structural and aesthetic-emotional unity of a Mozart piano concerto or Beethoven piano sonata; then the achievement was Chopin's - and the pianists."[64] Unfortunately, Weinstock makes an error here in comparing the four-movement structure of Chopin's opus 35 with the three-movement form of a Mozart piano concerto; presumably he is attesting to the presence of the structural unity of the sonata cycle in Chopin's opus 35. In connection with the foregoing, he asserts that Chopin designed the other three movements to go with the Funeral March, and that he conceived them as belonging together. The presence of thematic interrelationships between all four movements of the sonata (as outlined in Chapters Seven and Eight) tends to support this view.


Although he does not illustrate his observation, Weinstock notes the close relation between the second subject of the first movement, the melody of the più lento section of the Scherzo, and the Trio of the Funeral March. He also highlights the importance of the manner in which the Scherzo and the Funeral March are connected, whereby Chopin ends the Scherzo with the melody from the più lento section. This, according


[61] ibid., p. 157.

[62] ibid., p. 158.

[63] Weinstock, Herbert. Chopin: The Man and His Music (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1959), p. 239.

[64] ibid., p. 239.


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