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



Rosen addresses the issue of why so much notice was taken of Schumann's comment in the first place. Chopin was known to have general contempt for most of his contemporaries. On being given a copy of Schumann's Kreisleriana, he commented favourably only on the design of the cover page (which was, indeed, impressive). Furthermore, this work was dedicated to Chopin. Is it coincidence that Schumann's negative critique appeared only two to three years after Chopin had reacted unfavourably to Kreisleriana, completed in 1838? The answer is probably no.


Another issue addressed by Rosen is the notion that Chopin was incapable of dealing with large forms. He argues that it might more reasonably be maintained that " [Chopin] was the only musician of his generation who felt invariably at ease with [large forms] - each of the Ballades and Scherzi is, after all, as long as, or longer than, an average movement of Beethoven."[85] This view is somewhat simplistic, however, as large forms carry implications of not only length, but also complexity. The Ballades and Scherzi may be long, but are rather simple in structure.


Thus far, a large sample of critical writings relating to Chopin's sonata opus 35 has been surveyed. These writings, spanning a period of over 150 years, have shown a definite trend of initial negative criticism giving way to a greater understanding of Chopin's compositional style, and hence a more positive reception. Before embarking on a survey of the various extant analyses of the work, an overview of the history of the sonata cycle is necessary, in order that Chopin's sonata can be placed in historical perspective.


[85] ibid., p. 284.


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