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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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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.
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.