The captivating story of Frédéric Chopin and the fate of both his Mallorquin piano and musical Romanticism from the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century.
In November 1838, Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, and her two children sailed to Majorca to escape the Parisian winter. They settled in an abandoned monastery at Valldemossa in the mountains above Palma where Chopin finished what would eventually be recognized as one of the great and revolutionary works of musical Romanticism: his twenty-four Preludes. There was scarcely a decent piano on the island (these were still early days in the evolution of the modern instrument), so Chopin worked on a small pianino made by a local craftsman, Juan Bauza, which remained in their monastic cell for seventy years after he and Sand had left.
Chopin’s Piano traces the history of Chopin’s twenty-four Preludes through the instruments on which they were played, the pianists who interpreted them, and the traditions they came to represent. Yet it begins and ends with the Majorcan pianino, which assumed an astonishing cultural potency during the Second World War as it became, for the Nazis, a symbol of the man and music they were determined to appropriate as their own.
After Chopin, the unexpected hero of Chopin’s Piano is the great keyboard player Wanda Landowska, who rescued the pianino from Valldemossa in 1913, and who would later become one of the most influential artistic figures of the twentieth century. Paul Kildea shows how her storya compelling account based for the first time on her private papersresonates with Chopin’s, simultaneously distilling part of the cultural and political history of mid-twentieth century Europe and the United States. After Landowska’s flight to America from Paris, which the Germans would occupy only days later, her possessionsincluding her rare music manuscripts and beloved keyboardswere seized by the Nazis. Only some of these belongings survived the war; those that did were recovered by the Allied armies’ Monuments Men and restituted to Landowska’s house in France.
In scintillating prose, and with an eye for exquisite detail, Kildea beautifully interweaves these narratives, which comprise a journey through musical Romanticismone that illuminates how art is transmitted, interpreted, and appropriated between generations.
|Publisher:||Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||9.40(w) x 6.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Paul Kildea is a conductor and writer who formerly served as artistic director of Wigmore Hall in London. He is the author of Benjamin Britten: A Life in the Twentieth Century.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations vii
Book 1 The Lodestar of Musical Romanticism
1 Palma, 1830s 3
2 Palma, Paris, 1838 6
3 Palma, Valldemossa, 1838 17
4 Valldemossa, Marseilles, Nohant, 1838-9 34
5 Paris, 1831-9 56
6 Paris, 1839 74
7 Paris, 1841 83
8 Paris, 1842-8 99
9 London, Scotland, Paris, 1848-9 109
10 Paris, New York City, London, 1851-88 120
11 New York City, 1889 135
12 Paris, Saint Petersburg, Berlin, 1849-1900 141
Book 2 An Old Jewess, Crazy About Music
13 Valldemossa, Warsaw, Paris, Berlin, 1879-1913 159
14 Berlin, Pans, Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, 1914-27 179
15 Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, Paris, 1926-32 188
16 Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, Paris, Banyuls-sur-Mer, 1933-40 197
17 Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, Paris, Banyuls-sur-Mer, 1940-41 206
18 New York City, Paris, Leipzig, Silesia, Raitenhaslach, 1941-4 220
19 Paris, New York City, Munich, 1945 236
20 Los Angeles, Paris, Vienna, 1945-6 245
21 New York City, Munich, Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, 1946 252
22 Moscow, 1950 261
23 Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, New York City, Lakeville, 1949-59 266
24 Washington D.C., Valldemossa, London, Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, 2015-17 274
Envoi: Vienna, 1952 287