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Chopin’s Masterpiece Compositions And Singular Achievement

Chopin.jpgReal Clear Arts readers know that I am a fan of The Wall Street Journal’s Saturday Masterpiece column, subtitled “Anatomy of a Classic.”

Today’s piece — about music — is no exception. It celebrates the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth with a column about his 24 Preludes, “tiny microcosms [through which] Chopin established the hegemony of the Romantic miniature.”

The piece, by David Dubal, a professor of piano performance at the Juilliard School, also contains this statement, which astonishes and pleases me (a Chopin fan) immensely:

Probably more people have come to great music through Chopin than from any other composer.

What an achievement that is.



  1. Laurence Glavin says:

    What are some of the actual, formal classical music compositions that have securely embedded themselves into the general consciousness: the Fifth Symphony of BEETHOVEN; the Ninth Symphony of BEEETHOVEN, and the 14th Piano Sonata of BEETHOVEN. Hmmm…do you see a pattern here?

    • Beethoven’s 14 is NOT one of his greatest–the firast mov is just easy to play for beginners and is very beautiful–his best P Sonatas are 109 (#30) no. 32 and esp. his Bb miracle the 29’th. The end of the 9’th is very popular but as far as mel is concerned Bernstein said (rightfully) a great drinking song. The first mov (again as in all his Sym 3,5,7,9) is where the action is.
      But as far as Chopin—this Mr Glavin probably has a collection of things like Beethoven’s , Bach’s, and Mozart’s Greatest Hits.. There is no composer (including the big guns of Beethoven and Bach) who so consistently wrote music on the highest level. Bach had to have a nw piece each week or so for his church and listen to Beethoven very early work, esp WoO numbered works.
      I’d also suggest Chopin’s “minute watlz , his Fanatsy Impromptu, or his “Funereal March” sonata (they played this and not Beethoven’s at Kennedy’s funeral remember.
      Finally the argument is stupid —who is better or more well known—the answer is the Beatles

  2. Indeed — and thanks for your comment. Two things: a) I was quoting the professor, as I am not in a position to know. And how could one not love Beethoven, or Chopin? (or, for my money, Bach?) b) I think Dubal’s key words are “more people have come to great music.” In other words, Chopin was their first exposure to great music, their introduction, not necessarily the one with the largest impact on the general consciousness.

  3. Bruce Brubaker says:

    With all respect for my old colleague David Dubal — does anyone else have a problem with term “great” here?

  4. -also as far as the article on the Preludes—-the 13’th is my favorite –the middle part is so perfect—this is the traing in Bach speaking like some of those slow movements in the late quartets of B’s

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