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#1164027 - 03/17/09 10:25 AM Chopin...as compared to other composers/piansts  
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loveschopintoomuch Offline
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The following is taken from the music book by Alfred called: Chopin: An Introduction to his piano works, written by Willard A. Palmer. I thought it quite interesting as I had never heard the comparison before.

"...from the date of his birth he heard music played on the piano by his sister, Louise, and his mother. As soon as Chopin was old enough to realize that he, too, could learn to make music at the piano, he insisted that his sister teach him.

When his father decided that Louise should be allowed to study music with Adalbert Zywny, Frederic begged to be allowed to take lessons also. His requested was granted in 1816, when he was only six years old.

Many believe Chopin's natural gifts rivaled those of Mozart. The Polonaise in Bb M is an example of his ability to compose at the age of seven. In the same year of his childhood, his Polonaise in Gm, dedicated to Countess Victoire Skarbek was published.

It was hailed by many as a work of a genius."

Now...how about that??? It seems Mozart had nothing on Chopin.



Please feel free to add your comments about the above or if you have other information about the general sub-topic. It would be nice to see this thread going.

My best,
Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
#1164034 - 03/17/09 10:55 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: loveschopintoomuch]  
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While I don't have any additional facts to add, I will make a purely subjective statement. One can deduce that Chopin's genius EXCEEDED Mozart's, not just rivaled it, simply by listening to the music of the two composers. In my opinion, while Mozart was definitely prolific throughout his life and wrote some tremendous works, I believe that Chopin had a remarkable genius for expressing every possible human emotion through the use and manipulation of the keyboard and the theories of music. His innate understanding of how to do that are paramount to what makes his music so sublime. The only other composer I consistently find this same level of ability with is Rachmaninoff.


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#1164047 - 03/17/09 11:21 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: CC2 and Chopin lover]  
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I don't know anything substantive about the childhoods of either Mozart or Chopin, though I was aware both were considered child prodigies.

I know even less about the criteria for judging prodigies. The dictionary definitions speak of extraordinary talent or ability, especially on the part of a child or young person; Encyclopedia Brittanica offers this:

Quote
a child who, by about age 10, performs at the level of a highly trained adult in a particular sphere of activity or knowledge. In this sense, neither high intelligence nor eccentric skills by themselves qualify a child as a prodigy. Rather, it is the capacity to perform in a recognized area of endeavour in such a way as to receive broad acclaim that defines the prodigy. Therefore, individuals who are chess prodigies or "lightning calculators" (those who have a remarkable memory for figures) but who are otherwise mentally or developmentally disabled (such as "idiot savants") are not prodigies.

(From http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/prodigy.)

Brittanica's explanation is more illuminating, but the whole topic still begs questions for me such as "compared to whom?" and "in whose estimation?" I also wonder whether perceptions of such gifted children have differed culturally and changed through various eras.

Willard Palmer's choice of words—that Chopin was allowed along with Louise to study with Zywny when he was only six years old—grabbed my attention specifically because of his qualifying term only. By our aggressive modern-day standards of assessing and exploiting prodigy status, age six could be seen as getting a rather late start on formal lessons!

This isn't to say I'm doubtful in the least that Chopin was in fact a prodigy, merely that the term is used casually without precise meaning (and perhaps always has been). There's a difference between Grandma proclaiming her little show-off to be a prodigy because he can wow the church ladies with something that sounds impressive and the professional opinion of one with the academic background to recognize truly exceptional talent and the means to prove it objectively.

What would have been the bases for evaluating musical prodigies in the historical and cultural milieus of Mozart and Chopin?

Steven

#1164193 - 03/17/09 04:17 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: sotto voce]  
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Not to be a wet blanket, but I'm not sure there is much use in comparing the top composers to each other. Each is wonderfully unique.

That being said-- I don't know if any of them other than Chopin has his own mega-selling video game!

Elene

#1164249 - 03/17/09 05:54 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Elene]  
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But Beethoven does have his own action figure.

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#1164285 - 03/17/09 06:57 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: -Frycek]  
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Oh, that's hilarious, Frycek! Poor plastic Beethoven stuck in a pianoless pose, hands at the ready.

I would argue that Mozart is a greater composer than Chopin due to his incredible range, but he isn't as consistent in quality. I agree with Elene that it's pointless comparing - I am just so thankful that we have them both and can't imagine life without either.

#1164672 - 03/18/09 01:38 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Mary-Rose]  
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I'm really glad to hear that Beethoven has an action figure! If any composer is a heroic figure, it's him. But couldn't they give him a little plastic piano?

I believe there is a little stuffed mouse named Mozart Mouse, who I think has a companion book-- but it seems like "Wolfgang Amadeus Mousezart" would have been much better.

Those guys (and Rachmaninov) did have a much greater range of compositional chops than Chopin, so in some sense one would have to say that they are bigger deals. Chopin seems to win for sheer ubiquity. Beethoven perhaps should get the all-time championship prize for doing so much of it without a working auditory system!

I am half-convinced that J.S. Bach was actually from some other planet or dimension. I don't understand how he could have done what he did. NOBODY has matched or exceeded Bach.

I don't think Chopin would put his name in the same sentence with Mozart's or Bach's, unless it was something like, "Fryderyk Chopin was a great admirer of Mozart and Bach and strived to learn everything he could from them." But then, he's always been so modest.

[Having Googled, she returns]

http://www.shakespearesden.com/all-action-figures-shakespeares-den.html

Ohh-kaayy... Mozart, Bach, and Wagner have action figures, along with Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Leonardo, and others. (But not our guy, as far as I can tell.) I'm having thoughts of putting the Wilde together with the Poe and seeing what they come up with.

I should get the waitress action figure for my daughter, who has to wear the perky little dress and everything. If waitresses in diners aren't heroic, I don't know who is.

The Jesus action figure is just plain disturbing.

Elene

Last edited by Elene; 03/18/09 01:54 PM.
#1165119 - 03/19/09 03:47 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Elene]  
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I think that to put chopin and mozart in the same level is not true, because we dont really know what chopin whould write if he was born in mozarts time or vice versa. If you look at the amount of music and vastness of musical instruments used, ofcourse mozart is the winner, but i guess i depends on each one's muscial taste...
I , myself, have a good time in listening to a mozart sympthony and it makes me feel a lot from inside, but it doesn't make me feel like i feel when i hear chopin. Although chopin writing for the orchestra weren't in mozarts and beethoven's standard, i think he had the capability to do it, he just understood that his power is in the piano and in the smaller forms in music. I listen to chopin's music most of the time, because it was written like a music that was polished so much , yet has so much freedom , that you can't look at it in any other way, than a work of genius, who knew his a genius, and because of that chose to master one instrument alone , and triumphed, at least in my opinion smile
have a nice day,
Shaul.

#1165135 - 03/19/09 06:19 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: shaulhadar]  
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Quote
I don't think Chopin would put his name in the same sentence with Mozart's or Bach's,....

Maybe he wouldn't, but I would! smile

I agree with everything Shaul said.

Anyway, "comparing" Chopin to other composers doesn't mean that we have to collectively determine who was the "better" overall composer; we can compare the different styles of their piano music to identify how they are different.

#1165166 - 03/19/09 08:02 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Chardonnay]  
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Thank you all heart...so much for your comments. I'm so happy that we have a discussion going, sharing viewpoints and opinions.

Of course, I will always admit that I am very biased and agree totally with CC2, Shaul and Chardonnay. grin

But perhaps the word I used "compare" is not correct. What I was really looking for was how was Chopin similiar to other composers and how was he vastly different. Shaul touched on it a bit when he mentioned that Chopin was really bound by his piano and let it speak for him in his concertos, while the orchestra might have been just a backdrop.

I don't understand why we can't use Chopin's name in the same sentence as Mozart or Bach. In almost everything I have read, he is hailed as in a class of his own. That he chose to use only the piano does not or should not diminish his genius. IMO, no one could touch him.

So maybe, instead of opinions, we could use some actual facts.

That is...
Chopin hardly ever practiced.
Liszt, on the other hand, practiced 10-12 hours a day.

I really appreciate your latching onto this subject and would like to hear from you concerning what other subtopics we might want to create.

My best, as always,
Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
#1165211 - 03/19/09 10:13 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: loveschopintoomuch]  
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Chopin didn't PRACTICE much, but he did PLAY a great deal of the time.

Chopin wasn't in need of keeping up the stamina for a high-powered concert career, as Liszt was. Not that he would have possessed that stamina anyway.

But of course we'd probably prefer to listen to Chopin. Well, more than probably! At any rate, they're different animals entirely.

Elene


#1165352 - 03/19/09 02:01 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Elene]  
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Actually it's interesting that Liszt had the kind of stamina he did. He wasn't particularly strong either and used to have recurrent bouts of malaria.


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#1165583 - 03/19/09 09:42 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: -Frycek]  
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Interesting, I didn't know that Liszt had malaria. Do you know when it started?

He did have a near-death experience in childhood, that is, he was thought to be dead for some hours, and then he revived and recovered. This apparently had a lot to do with the development of his spiritual and religious side.

I was thinking that a Liszt action figure would be particularly appropriate!

Elene

#1165641 - 03/20/09 12:23 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Elene]  
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I think chopin , as a child prodigy, worked hard in his early years, to the extenet that when he came to france, he was a complete master and virtuoso of the piano, and he didn't need to practice like people think practicing should be, because he was such in his music, that as ELENE wrote, he played a lot, and i think that this was one of his unique gifts. Chopin could play the most amazing things without any restrains, and yet liszt had to practice 10 hours a day....
I think it's only because of the different mentality of the two composers.....liszt went into a practicing frenzy after chopin published the etudes op.10, so i think that ofcourse the fact that he practiced so much made him the best piano player from the technicle aspect, but for me , i am ofcourse interested in chopin, which came to master the piano in such an early age, that he just took his time in designing new compositional techniques and sound pallets, because he already mastered his piano..... i'ts the usual dillema, the performer or the creator, and i think that the creatos , when they perfrom, than nothing can sound better than them smile

#1165708 - 03/20/09 06:04 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Elene]  
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Originally Posted by Elene
Interesting, I didn't know that Liszt had malaria. Do you know when it started?

He did have a near-death experience in childhood, that is, he was thought to be dead for some hours, and then he revived and recovered. This apparently had a lot to do with the development of his spiritual and religious side.

I was thinking that a Liszt action figure would be particularly appropriate!

Elene


Re malaria - it began in childhood - perhaps the was the cause of the near death experience (not sure about that) - but when he was a young kid anyway. Salieri (who was actually a pretty nice guy) remarked in a letter that "young Franz" was so exhausted by his walk to his lessons that he could barely play and he feared for his constitution.

Re action figures - I'm surprized they missed both Liszt and Chopin and Vivaldi even given the popularity of The Four Seasons.


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#1165775 - 03/20/09 08:59 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: -Frycek]  
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Thank you, Shaul. It is obvious you are in the right place here. You are correct by saying that by the time Chopin arrived in France, he was a completely accomplished pianist and composer. Not to say that composing always came that easy for him. Perhaps it was due to his sense of perfectionism. I know he was often very frustrated when he couldn't reproduce on paper the music he often improvised. Yes, he did play a lot, but certainly no where near Liszt, who traveled the continent giving performances constantly.

If we think that Chopin was fragile, and he was, you must find a picture of Liszt. He was so thin you could hardly see him sideways. In fact, I recall (can't remember where) that someone said he was as thin as a wire. I do have a picture of him somewhere. Laziness prevents me from digging it out. But perhaps that is the ONE thing that we can say Chopin and Liszt shared...their "skinniness." thumb And, contrary to what we often read, Chopin did respect Liszt very much as was the same for Liszt.

Defending my statement that Chopin's name has every right to be included in the same sentence as Mozart and Bach.

This is taken from the book: The Great Pianists by Schonberg:

Quote
The point is that up to his arrival in Paris he has been exposed to very few of the new concepts sweeping Europe. From John Field he has absorbed a few things, and also from Hummel. But his style and his harmonic structure, his way of treating the instrument, his use of functional ornamentation (unlike so much of the music of Liszt and the other virtusos, nearly all of Chopin's braura passages-and all, in his maturity-have a melodic rather that an purely bravura function), his amazing harmonies and modulations, the piquancy of his rubato, his use of folk elements in the mazurkas and polonaises-all of these he had developed on his own by the time he was twenty-one. He was one of the fantastic geniuses in history."


So I rest by case, unless, of course, someone challenges me. wink


Would anyone think that a subtopic entitled FAQ might be interesting. I think it could be of great use to those new to the forum and to the Chopin thread. They might turn to this, instead of trudging through the DtC thread. However, we could always refer them back to the DtC for more details on the subject. Just a thought.

Any other composers...how about Debussy?? Now there was an interesting character! crazy

Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891
#1201034 - 05/17/09 04:47 PM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: loveschopintoomuch]  
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Who was the greater musical genius... what a great question. They're all so far over my head, who am I to judge between them. I certainly love all the ones you have mentioned... but Bach was my first musical love, and still is especially my favorite.

What particularly wonderful good fortune that we live in a time when we can have access to really good editions of their scores, know about their lives and writings, and hear so many recordings of great talents interpreting their works. This has never before been available.

I personally do not require any plastic action figures of Beethoven, but my piano teacher might like one, on some special occasion. Then again, a cashmere sweater says about everything there is to say.


Clef

#1202636 - 05/20/09 07:48 AM Re: Chopin...as compared to other composers/pianst [Re: Jeff Clef]  
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Jeff: You are not alone in admiring Bach. It is the MAN .

I always feel that I must be lacking something because I don't care for most of his music. It seems so rigid at times. I feel like saying: 'Let yourself go."

Kathleen


After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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