Transformations of Chopin’s Style: The Chopin Year and Chopin Studies in Poland

Editorial by Maja Trochimczyk

After the Chopin Year (1999), with all the conferences and festivities ended, the editors of various proceedings and essay collections were left with the task of assembling materials that – due to the scope of their subjects and the variety of methodologies – indirectly documented the current state of Chopin research. As a participant in several American and Polish events (the Chopin session at the national meeting of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences of America, New York; the Chopin Sesquicentennial Symposium at Indiana University; the 2nd International Chopin Congress, Warsaw, Poland), I had an opportunity to observe and compare the approaches of different scholars. The 1999 volume of the Polish Music Journal brought a selection of papers of interest to the scholarly community, ranging from documentary studies, through far-fetched hypotheses, and even a humorous pastiche of Chopin writing. The papers came from different sources and highlighted a methodological diversity of the field of Chopin studies. In contrast, this first issue of the 2000 volume highlights a particular approach to Chopin’s oeuvre. In the early 1990s, a research project directed by Prof. Maciej Gołąb and conducted by a strong group of prominent Polish scholars engaged in a search for factors that would define and elucidate gradual (or revolutionary?) changes in Chopin’s style. As the issue’s guest editor, Gołąb explains the principles of his research team and some of their findings; our readers should refer to his introduction for further remarks on this topic.

However, some explanations are also due from me as the Journal’s editor. In 1999, we responded to the challenge of translation delays and editorial problems by combining all the journal articles scheduled for the year into one, double issue celebrating “The Chopin Year”. In 2000, our solution has been different because of the content of our two planned issues. While the articles are mostly dedicated to Chopin’s music, there are two distinct categories of papers and this necessitates their separation into two different issues. Four articles come from a single source, an essay collection edited in 1993 by Prof. Maciej Gołąb, Przemiany stylu Chopina[Transformations of Chopin’s Style]; the full content of this volume is listed in the endnote.[1] Two other papers, by Sandra P. Rosenblum and James Parakilas, have been awarded Wilk Prizes for Polish Music for the year 1999 and should therefore be presented together; they appear in volume 3, no. 2 (2001).[2] There is no compelling reason to combine these studies with the present Polish collection since neither the exact subject matter, nor the methodologies of the American scholars have much in common with those presented in the Transformations of Chopin Style. The rationale for choice of titles from the essay collection is presented in Maciej Gołąb’s guest editorial. However, I would like to add that I have, with some regrets, asked Prof. Gołąb not to include Andrzej Tuchowski’s excellent overview of technical issues in Chopin’s nocturnes, because his method and one of the nocturnes were the subject of an article published in the previous volume of our journal. I should also mention the fact that I included a review (originally published in the Polish Musicological Quarterly, Muzyka) of John Rink’s monograph on Chopin Piano Concerti; the book review is by Wojciech Bonkowski, doctoral student in musicology at the Institute of Musicology in Warsaw (supervised by Prof. Gołąb). Taken together, the four essays and the review present a portrait of one part of the rich and varied field of Chopin studies in Poland.

In my role as the editor of the Polish Music Journal (and the Polish Music History Series of books) I have been assisted by the meticulous and efficient Dr. Linda Schubert, American musicologist and PMC volunteer who is now serving in the capacity of our Assistant Editor. In conclusion, some remarks about “naming” are necessary. The Journal’s publisher underwent an internal evolution that resulted in removing the term “reference” from the Center’s name (it was too often confused with other “r” words: research and resource). In addition, as the new name of the Journal’s editor may result in some misunderstandings, I would like to clarify that “Maja Trochimczyk” is the new name of “Maria Anna Harley” – and that this re-naming signifies a return to my Polish roots after 13 years of living abroad, away from my extended family and the sophisticated Polish music scene. The last name “Trochimczyk” (Tro- khim- chik) is my birth name and its choice serves to honor my parents, Henryka (b.Wajszczuk) and Aleksy Trochimczyk, who named me “Maria Anna” after my maternal grandmother but have always called me “Maja” (pronounced “Ma-ya”). Since I cannot be closer to them in space, I decided to try to do so “in nomine.”


[1]. Przemiany stylu Chopina, ed. Maciej Gołąb (Kraków: Musica Iagellonica, 1993). Contents: Part I. “Issues in Source-Studies and Methodology”. Maciej Gołąb, “Metodologiczne aspekty badań nad przemianami stylu Chopina” (11-22); Teresa Dalila Turło, “Z badań nad chronologią form sonatowych, nokturnów, polonezów i mazurków. Studium dokumentacyjno-źródłowe” (23-42). Part II. “Transformations of Musical-Formal Categories in Chopin’s Sonatas, Nocturnes, Polonaises and Mazurkas”. Zofia Helman, “Norma i indywiduacja w sonatach Chopina” (43-68); Andrzej Tuchowski, “Integracja strukturalna a faktura i forma w nokturnach Chopina” (69-90); Tomasz Baranowski, “Przemiany muzycznych kategorii formalnych w fortepianowych polonezach Chopina” (91-109); Elżbieta Witkowska-Zaremba, “Wersyfikacja, składnia i forma w mazurkach Chopina” (109-136). Part III. “From Studies of Aesthetic Categories in the Style of Chopin”. Danuta Jasińska, “Problem stylu brillant w twórczości Chopina” (137-156); Maria Piotrowska, “‘Późny Chopin. Uwagi o dziełach ostatnich” (157-178). [Back]

[2]. Sandra P. Rosenblum, “‘Effusions of a Master Mind:’ The Reception of Chopin’s Music in Nineteenth-Century America” and James Parakilas, “‘Nuit plus belle qu’un beau jour’ Poetry, Song, and the Voice in the Piano Nocturne.” The papers received the 1999 Wilk Prize for Research in Polish Music, professional category (ex aequo). [Back]