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Mickiewicz's poem Undine
#1976522 10/20/12 10:44 PM
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gooddog Offline OP
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In studying Chopin's Ballade #3, I discovered that many sources say the Ballade is based on the Polish poet, Adam Mickiewicz's poem "Undine", (sometimes spelled "Ondine" or "L'ondine".) I have been unable to find the text of it anywhere on the internet. Does anyone have it?

Many thanks,


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976531 10/20/12 11:02 PM
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I did a little checking, and....Undine/Ondine seems to be the French title for the poem Åšwitezianka, whose English translation is given here (together with the original Polish.

HOWEVER, I'm pretty sure that it's simply not known which Mickiewicz poem is connected with any of the Ballades -- and in fact, while I was looking this up, I found that this particular poem has been variously thought to be connected with either the 3rd Ballade or the 2nd.

Be that as it may, I've found that reading Mickiewicz (I've read much of Pan Tadeusz, but none of the poems) is very interesting in terms of Chopin's inspiration from him. Mickiewicz seems to me to have a very Chopinesque, lyrical feel, more "Chopinesque" than any musical composer besides Chopin. smile
But then again, so do a lot of other writers (Emily Dickinson comes to mind) -- more so than any other composer.

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976726 10/21/12 11:48 AM
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Thanks Mark but I was under the impression that "L'Undine" and "Switezianka" are two different poems. I looked up Switezianka and it appears to be about a water nymph so maybe I'm wrong.

I too noticed that there is some question about which poem goes with which Ballade. I am hoping one of our Polish members might enlighten us.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976750 10/21/12 12:56 PM
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Well, it seems, yes -- maybe. smile

Some sources talk about them as though they're different poems, but look at this source.

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976753 10/21/12 01:07 PM
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Confusing. Yes?


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976795 10/21/12 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by gooddog
Confusing. Yes?

Yes -- to some extent confusing, but I think even more so, it's just completely uncertain as to which poem might be connected with any Ballade. As that source indicates, some writers (particularly Huneker) have stated assertions, but their assertions are very far from solid.

And y'know, I think I prefer it that way. I think I wouldn't like to have any definite "programme" associated with any of these pieces, and I think it's more than enough just to appreciate the general nature and flavor of Mickiewicz's writing in relation to Chopin's music.

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
Mark_C #1976799 10/21/12 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
[...] I think I wouldn't like to have any definite "programme" associated with any of these pieces, and I think it's more than enough just to appreciate the general nature and flavor of Mickiewicz's writing in relation to Chopin's music.


While it may be argued that this is the "easy way out" of a dilemma, it certainly is the approach that I would favour. From what I have read - which is admittedly not enough - I don't "see" Chopin as attaching a particular program to any of his works, and I then wonder why the Ballades should be any different, or why one Ballade may have a literary source and others not.

Does anyone feel that literary sources, tenuous or otherwise, would inform our interpretations of these works differently than we do without them?

I do see the Ballades, rather, as examples of absolute music.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
BruceD #1976805 10/21/12 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
While it may be argued that this is the "easy way out" of a dilemma, it certainly is the approach that I would favour. From what I have read....I don't "see" Chopin as attaching a particular program to any of his works, and I then wonder why the Ballades should be any different....

I do see the Ballades, rather, as examples of absolute music.

I'm with you (of course, as per the prior post) smile ....but at the same time, I can see why it might be felt that the Ballades uniquely or almost uniquely (if you pardon the qualifier on "unique") smile might have specific programmes (or approximately specific), because IMO they have by far the most narrative feel of Chopin's pieces.

The reason I qualified "unique" is that there are some other Chopin pieces that I'd put up there with the Ballades or close to them on "narrative feel" -- especially the F minor Fantaisie (which as you probably know is also sometimes said to have a supposed programme attached to it) and also perhaps the 2nd Impromptu, several Nocturnes (arguably many), and some Mazurkas.

Quote
....or why one Ballade may have a literary source and others not.

I don't think any of them are felt to have had a specific literary source more than any of the others; they are all hypothesized to be inspired by Mickiewicz poems. It's just that some specific supposed connections have been stated for three of them (I think) but not the other (the 4th).

Quote
Does anyone feel that literary sources, tenuous or otherwise, would inform our interpretations of these works differently than we do without them?

For me, I think it would be a constricting factor, but if there were indeed a known literary source, I'd wouldn't refuse to know it. grin

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976845 10/21/12 06:06 PM
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The idea of favoring a programme vs. absolute interpretation is an interesting dilemma. I was firmly on Brahms' side of the fence, (absolute), until I played Schumann's "Aufschwung". I wasn't able to reconcile the feelings I got from the different sections of the piece until I developed a personal mind picture of what "Soaring" was about. Before this piece, I simply went with whatever feelings arose. Following an image in "Aufschwung" was an entirely new experience to me but it also was successful. It made a huge difference in my ease with the piece.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976859 10/21/12 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gooddog
The idea of favoring a programme vs. absolute interpretation is an interesting dilemma. I was firmly on Brahms' side of the fence, (absolute), until I played Schumann's "Aufschwung". I wasn't able to reconcile the feelings I got from the different sections of the piece until I developed a personal mind picture of what "Soaring" was about. Before this piece, I simply went with whatever feelings arose. Following an image in "Aufschwung" was an entirely new experience to me but it also was successful. It made a huge difference in my ease with the piece.

That's not what I'd consider a "programme" and I suspect it's not what Bruce meant either. I would liken it much more to an opening tempo indication, giving an instruction and/or clue to the essential nature and feeling of the piece. (I know that the piece also has a tempo indication, although I don't know offhand what it is smile ....I'm not saying it is a tempo indication, but just in the nature of it, as opposed to a programme.)

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976860 10/21/12 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by gooddog
The idea of favoring a programme vs. absolute interpretation is an interesting dilemma. I was firmly on Brahms' side of the fence, (absolute), until I played Schumann's "Aufschwung". I wasn't able to reconcile the feelings I got from the different sections of the piece until I developed a personal mind picture of what "Soaring" was about. Before this piece, I simply went with whatever feelings arose. Following an image in "Aufschwung" was an entirely new experience to me but it also was successful. It made a huge difference in my ease with the piece.


I certainly think that in instances such as the one you quoted where a suggestive title rather than an abstract one is given by the composer is something quite different, and it does - even should - inform our interpretation of a piece.

Oh, and speaking of Herr Brahms : His two Rhapsodies of Op. 79 he wanted to give simply the generic all-encompassing title of "Klavierstücke" (as he did with his Opp. 76, 118 and 119) but his dedicatee, Elizabeth von Herzogenberg convinced him to call them Rhapsodies. Would that knowledge change our interpretation? In this instance, I don't think so.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
BruceD #1976908 10/21/12 09:02 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Oh, and speaking of Herr Brahms : His two Rhapsodies of Op. 79 ...Regards,
Bruce, I remember you were working on at least one of them. How are they coming along?


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1976930 10/21/12 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by gooddog
Originally Posted by BruceD
Oh, and speaking of Herr Brahms : His two Rhapsodies of Op. 79 ...Regards,
Bruce, I remember you were working on at least one of them. How are they coming along?


Thanks for asking! I've performed the G minor a couple of times, not to my greatest satisfaction, but performed from memory reasonably well, nevertheless. I hope to have the B minor ready for next summer.

Bruce


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Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
Mark_C #1976950 10/21/12 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
...
Be that as it may, I've found that reading Mickiewicz (I've read much of Pan Tadeusz, but none of the poems) is very interesting in terms of Chopin's inspiration from him. Mickiewicz seems to me to have a very Chopinesque, lyrical feel, more "Chopinesque" than any musical composer besides Chopin. smile
But then again, so do a lot of other writers (Emily Dickinson comes to mind) -- more so than any other composer.
...

I'm surprised to see the mention of Dickinson -- are there any poems in particular that strike you as "Chopinesque"?

To me, the poet closest to the sensibility of Chopin would be Keats. In fact, on reading the excerpt from Bellman's book that you linked to, where he quotes the writer comparing the last line of Switezianka with the end of the second Ballade, it occurred to me that the final stanza of La Belle Dame Sans Merci is closer in mood to the Ballade's ending.

This is probably a topic for a separate thread, though.

Originally Posted by Mark_C
...
The reason I qualified "unique" is that there are some other Chopin pieces that I'd put up there with the Ballades or close to them on "narrative feel" -- especially the F minor Fantaisie (which as you probably know is also sometimes said to have a supposed programme attached to it) and also perhaps the 2nd Impromptu, several Nocturnes (arguably many), and some Mazurkas.
...

Polonaise-Fantaisie?

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
Mark_C #1976957 10/22/12 12:50 AM
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Thanks for the reference to Bellman's book. It looks great!


Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
Ferdinand #1976965 10/22/12 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Ferdinand
I'm surprised to see the mention of Dickinson -- are there any poems in particular that strike you as "Chopinesque"?

To me, the poet closest to the sensibility of Chopin would be Keats. In fact, on reading the excerpt from Bellman's book that you linked to, where he quotes the writer comparing the last line of Switezianka with the end of the second Ballade, it occurred to me that the final stanza of La Belle Dame Sans Merci is closer in mood to the Ballade's ending.

I'll answer as best I can, which I'm afraid will be not very well, because my knowledge is not of any depth -- mostly, impressions without much specifics -- and not on a level of what yours apparently is. I've read enough Emily Dickinson to have a general impression (such as I stated), but the only poem I can mention without looking up stuff is "The last night that she lived." And actually I almost mentioned Keats also, but (I'm sort of embarrassed to say!) I couldn't think offhand of any specific poems of his that I was sure were by him, so I didn't. BTW my knowledge of art is similar. grin

Quote
This is probably a topic for a separate thread, though.

I hope it's OK to be doing some of it here. smile
I certainly appreciate your post.

Originally Posted by Ferdinand
Originally Posted by Mark_C
...The reason I qualified "unique" is that there are some other Chopin pieces that I'd put up there with the Ballades or close to them on "narrative feel" -- especially the F minor Fantaisie....
Polonaise-Fantaisie?

Absolutely!

And really, I think it could almost have been called "Polonaise-Ballade," except that the meter wouldn't match!

About the F minor Fantaisie: I think it's been mentioned on this site that it seems odd how the piece is often grouped in a volume with the Scherzi, rather than perhaps with the Ballades.

Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
BruceD #1977111 10/22/12 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by gooddog
Originally Posted by BruceD
Oh, and speaking of Herr Brahms : His two Rhapsodies of Op. 79 ...Regards,
Bruce, I remember you were working on at least one of them. How are they coming along?


Thanks for asking! I've performed the G minor a couple of times, not to my greatest satisfaction, but performed from memory reasonably well, nevertheless. I hope to have the B minor ready for next summer.

Bruce
I will look forward to hearing them next summer!


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
gooddog #1977213 10/22/12 04:44 PM
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'Switezianka' is commonly associated with the 2nd Ballade, but the 'U/Ondine' story, whether by Mickiewicz or general 'Volksglauben' shouldn't be of any interest in you playing the 3rd Ballade, even 3/4 of it...It's meant to absolute music, so it's meant to be played as such, I never think of a fish-tailed lady jumping out of the lake when I reach the last pages, I think of the 4th...


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Mickiewicz's poem Undine
Ferdinand #1977290 10/22/12 08:33 PM
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Ferdinand: My wife, who unlike me knows her literature, says you were being kind in how you put it about Dickinson. She said I could hardly have picked a worse example. grin

And I should probably use this smiley [Linked Image] rather than the stupid grin.


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