Confrernce 2002 Confrernce 2002

Warszaw 6-7 December 2002

II International Conference, entitled Chopin’s Work. His Inspirations and the Creative Process in the Light of Sources, took place on 6th and 7th December 2002. It was second in a cycle of yearly conferences organized in December by the Frederic Chopin Institute 

The topics of the conference centred around the sources, i.e. preserved authentic autographs, autographs with the composer’s corrections, drafts, first editions. The materials contain invaluable information on the artist’s creative process, his inspirations, methods of working on compositions and modifying its particular elements, final corrections, etc.

Session One: Inspirations and contexts

The first session (Friday morning, December 6) was devoted to the context and inspirations of Chopin’s music from the point of view of his manuscripts. One of the issues that arouse during the session was the historic context of the composer’s creative process, addressed by Prof. Jan Stęszewski (Poznań University) and the question of Chopin’s music being an inspiration for 19th century European music, presented by Prof. Jean-Jeacques Eigeldinger (Geneva University) and exemplified by „a melody attributed to Chopin”. Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski (the Academy of Music in Krakow) explained in detail a reverse process – Chopin and his reception of Polish popular patriotic song as well as its underestimated position in Chopin’s melodic material.

Session Two: Sources and source editions

The second session (Friday afternoon, December 6) was devoted to issues immediately associated with the sources, i.e. the musical material written by Chopin himself, his copyists and that included in the first editions of is works. The opening lecture by Dr hab. Zofia Chechlińska (Jagiellonian University) dealt with a general problem of typology of Chopin’s manuscript modifications. Unlike many other composers, once the decision to publish a manuscript was made, Chopin decided on its general, from then on unchanged structure, at the same time introducing numerous minute variations of local importance. Prof. John Rink (London University) presented the issue of errors and modifications appearing in the process of copying music by Chopin himself, who was frequently made to perform the activity, although he did not particularly like it. It is very often difficult to define which differences between source editions were intended and which occurred as a result of an error; the lecture presented the evaluation criteria for those differences. The other part of the session was a discussion between two editors of two different source editions of Chopin’s score: Paweł Kamiński (National Edition of Complete Works of F. Chopin)  and Chritophe Grabowski (Peters Source Edition). Although the two editions agree as to the general idea (both are based on critically analysed source material, both presenting variations in places where the source has more than one version), they differ in the approach to the central text of the edition. Peters Edition strives for the consistency of the source, i.e. ideal accordance of basic musical material of an edition with the text of one source, while National Edition aims at recreating the most plausible “ideal” content of the central musical text. As a result the basic text and  variations differ from one edition to the other. Although the representatives of the two editorial approaches remained unmoved in their believes, the exchange of ideas and a major discussion allowed for better understanding of the two stands, diverse philosophies and methodologies. 

Session Three: Unfinished or abandoned pieces

The third session (Saturday morning) was devoted to disputed issues, which are unclear in Chopin’s sources, particularly unfinished manuscripts, unrealized ideas, doubtful versions of known pieces etc. The opening lecture of Prof. Jan Ekier presented the reconstruction process of a piece preserved in fragments only. The process, though immensely difficult and always burdened with a significant margin of error, can nevertheless be somehow coded, the rules springing directly from the character of the preserved fragments. The general rule is to try and comprehend the idea of the work, basing on available (even if fragmentary) sources, and starting with this strive to complete the piece by analogy with other author’s compositions in the same genre. Prof. Jeffrey Kallberg (Pennsylvania University) presented the subject of the role of a romantic idea of fragment in creative philosophy of Chopin. Prof. Maciej Gołąb (Warsaw University), on the other hand, presented certain musical thoughts preserved in drafts, which were apparently abandoned by Chopin or replaced in actual compositions with other musical solutions. Dr Wojciech Nowik (Polish Academy of Science) introduced his own reconstruction of Chopin’s song Moja pieszczotka, to the lyrics of Adam Mickiewicz, in which – contrary to National Edition team – he does not follow Juliusz Fontana’s reconstruction, but, basing on certain details in Chopin’s autograph, decides for a more complex and less schematic accompaniment. The session was closed by a lecture by Prof. Jim Samson (London University), devoted to Chopin’s unrealized project, from which only two pages of drafts have been preserved. Prof. Samson believes it to have been a draft for a Violin Sonata. The thesis is based on certain qualities of the source and has become a basis for a broader theory, according to which in the later period of his artistic activity, marked by the appearance of Cello Sonata, Chopin was heading towards classical forms from the Viennese circle, from which he started in Warsaw period and virtually completely abandoned in his mature works. Both Cello Sonata as well as the draft which can constitute the unrealized Violin Sonata are significant because of the change of medium, compositional technique and the composer’s philosophy. He now undergoes a metamorphosis from a composer-pianist (mature period) to a composer (beginnings of a new style).

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