Analysis of Chopin's Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat major op.61

Analysis of Chopin's Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat major op.61

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Frederic Chopin, a Polish Nationalistic composer of the Romantic period, is a famous musician. Chopin’s compositions are individualistic to his talent and love of the piano. Chopin lived in Warsaw as a child and spent a great deal of his life living Paris amongst other artists of the Romantic period. He was influenced by people surrounding him and even more from his childhood in Poland. The Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat major opus 61, is musically representative of Chopin and the Romantic period, nationalistic styles from Poland and unique innovations especially from Warsaw.
The Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat major opus 61 is representative of Chopin in its Polish tendencies, and general style in which Chopin composed. Chopin was born in Warsaw to a French immigrant Father and an impoverished Polish Noble Mother. Chopin was born when Poland was not a country; it had been divided and annexed by Russia, Prussia and Austria. Chopin spent his childhood and formative years in Warsaw, which was then part of Prussia. Conditions in Poland had become more favorable for music in the Romantic period. Chopin spent time in a popular local Warsaw music Publisher office (Goldberg). He played compositions and bought copious amounts as well. Around that time, Poland had an influx of foreign virtuosi but no great musicians of their own, because the economy was not favorable for Patrons. However, “Romanticism became both the means to recapture the heroic past and prelude to a future armed revolt (Goldberg, 23).” The People of Warsaw had an armed revolt known as the November uprising of 1830. These events led to Chopin being exiled from Poland. Chopin went to live in Vienna and eventually Paris, to live with other musicians and exiles. Chopin composed in his own individualistic style for most of his life. Eventually, Chopin departed from his own traditional way of composing to tackle problems of form and genre. In his late years he adopted a symptomatic approach to composition (Sadie, 293) The Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat major opus 61 was written late in Chopin’s life and is a prime example of the later and his Polish heritage.
The Romantic period was not too welcomed in Poland, in its beginning days. The cultural background of Poland was centered on folk and old ways, and was not looking for change.
Throughout the transitioning period with debating over Romanticism and Classicism, Chopin declared himself through his music, on the Romantic side (Goldberg, 22).

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The Classical period is known to have more strict rules in music forms. There were set rules in the different categories of music, rules of what had to happen when and how, that the composer had to follow. The Romantic period has less of this, and the composers were more free to do what they want and not just follow the rules. Chopin embodied two Romantic values the most: relaxed form and nationalism. Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat major op.61 is a prime example of relaxed form. The piece is a blending of two different forms, the polonaise and fantasy. This piece was the goal of Chopin’s blending of two styles, “not until the Polonaise-Fantasia op. 61 did Chopin feel that the generic principles of the polonaise had been undermined sufficiently to introduce the term fantasy into the title (Goldberg, 94).” The second Romantic value that Chopin is the poster child for is nationalism. Despite the fact that Chopin lived in Paris for most of his life, “he continued making music out of the traditions in which he was reared (Goldberg, 27).” The Polonaise-Fantaisie is a blending of styles into a hybrid; this hybridization is a technique that originated from Warsaw. Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie op. 61 is an example of Romantic period music at its best.
Chopin, a strong Romantic composer, affiliated himself with styles of the past because they were so popular amongst the people of Poland. He composed complex piano pieces that often have multiple lines of melody. One of which melodies would be distinctly Polish. It is said that, “Chopin is a great master of free almost hidden counter point: beautiful countermelodies which greatly enhance the effect of the work and which are often differentiated rhythmically from the rest of the texture (Klaus, 206).” The Polonaise-Fantaisie is an example of Chopin’s use of counter point. The piece has all the qualities described by Klaus, with a beautiful main melody distracting from the under belly of counterpoint. The uses of counterpoint that Chopin uses are unique in the style period in which it is written.
The Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-Flat major opus 61 is musically representative of Chopin because it showcases his love of piano and his blending of genres later in life. The piece is also a prime example of the Romantic period because of its nationalistic melodies from Poland. Chopin also uses counterpoint in the Polonaise-Fantaisie op. 61, which was unique in the Romantic period.

Works Cited

Goldberg, Halina. Music in Chopin’s Warsaw. New York: Oxford University Press. 2008. Print.
Klaus, Kenneth B. The Romantic Period in Music. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc. 1970. Print.
Sadie, Stanley and John Tyrrell. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London:
Macmillan Publishers, 2002. Print.

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