Chopin's Piano Sonata in B Flat Minor Opus 35 - The early analyses - Leichtentritt and Reti


As stated in Chapter Four, one of the first comprehensive analyses of the works of Chopin was that of Hugo Leichtentritt in 1921. The significance of a German musicologist undertaking a project of such a scale has already been mentioned in Chapter Four. Leichtentritt's analysis of the B flat Minor Sonata is quite significant in that it is almost always referred to in subsequent analyses of the work by other analysts. Many of his opinions and analytical discoveries were used to great advantage as a basis for further investigation in later writings. Alan Walker views Leichtentritt's analyses as extremely important for their time in that when it was still "fashionable to regard Chopin as a mere dreamer, a loose musical thinker," Leichtentritt revealed Chopin's structural mastery to "a generation who had not yet heard the news."[109]


A significant portion of Leichtentritt's analysis of the opus 35 sonata deals with Chopin's harmonic idiom. His preoccupation with harmonic analysis can in some cases be seen as superfluous, in the sense that any musically educated reader would be able to discern Chopin's underlying harmony for themselves. The issues dealt with by Leichtentritt in his analysis will be examined only inasmuch as they contribute counter-arguments to the negative reception of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. A comprehensive survey of his analysis will thus not be undertaken.


Leichtentritt's understanding of the function of the introductory four bars of the first movement of opus 35 is that of delaying the entry of the first subject in order to create tension, the degree of which is intensified by the metrical and harmonic irregularity of these bars.[110] Furthermore, he believes that the work begins on the fifth bar of an eight-bar phrase. Right from the start, then, Leichtentritt highlights the importance of the


[109] Walker, Alan. 'Chopin and Musical Structure: An Analytical Approach,' Frédéric Chopin: Profiles of the Man and The Musician ed. Walker, A. (London: Barrie and Rockcliff, 1966), p.231.

[110] Leichtentritt, Hugo. Analyse der Chopin'schen Klavierwerke, Vol. II (Berlin: Max Hesse, 1921-1922),p. 211.



Previous      Next






©2010 Jonathan Oshry • joshry@hotmail.com