by Maria Piotrowska

translated by Joanna Niżyńska and Peter Schertz


The article contains notes on three works dating from Chopin’s final years of composition: the Barcarolle in F-sharp major Op. 60, the Sonata in G minor for piano and cello Op. 65, and the song, Melody for voice and piano to a text by Zygmunt Krasiński. These are unique pieces which lie outside the development lines of style that can be drawn within the framework of individual genres. The exceptional position of these three pieces is determined in each case by the variety of factors: the generic variant of the characteristic piano piece; the scoring; the expression. All three pieces are united by a common feature: a mastery of late style. The hermeneutic intention of the article has not been assisted by the isolation of the individual works; the author has therefore referred to examples of hermeneutics of classical origin where the subject of hermeneutic interpretation is a single work. Since this characteristic is best applied to the Barcarolle, a commentary about this work occupies a central place in the article. Here, the point of departure is Karol Stromenger’s hypothesis (1934) that the Barcarolle was an individual setting of Z. Krasiński’s poem “Przedświt,” being, on the one hand, a poetical expose of the poet’s Messianic system and, on the other, a hommage to Delfina Potocka. The author attempts to develop and document Stromenger’s convincing suggestion that calls into question a popular thesis about Chopin’s negative attitude to Polish Messianism. It also sheds new light on certain personal details. What is without doubt, however, is that the experience of Krasiński’s work by the composer of the Barcarolle was certainly in the order of a “cultural experience”, of which Op. 60 is the final “expression.” The sonata Op.65 is examined, among other perspectives, from the viewpoint of its connections with the youthful Trio Op. 8. In both these works there are influences of Beethovenian gestures assuming a more elusive and sublime character in the Sonata. A hint of romantic irony links this work with the Barcarolle, while both pieces display unequivocal autobiographical features. In the light of its connections with Krasiński’s poem, the Barcarolle evokes and reaffirms the world of values most highly revered by the composer. A similar rhethorical gesture is found in the Sonata Op. 65, where the main theme of the first movement makes referrence to Chopin’s Warsaw piano concertos; thus, the sonata has the character of a clear reminiscence. When placed in the period in which these works were written, their hermeneutical content may be comprehended as an expression of the moral defense of the composer’s inner “self” whose autonomy he doubtlessly felt was threatend. The deepening depression pervading Chopin’s life revealed itself in the song, Melody the text of which leaves no doubt as to Chopin’s preoccupation with the contents of great Polish Messianic poetry. The seven-line text of the song read in the context of Krasiński’s whole poem, bestows a deeply pessimistic tone upon this late masterpiece, making it, along with works Op. 60 and 65, a musical example of the “introvertism” of Chopin’s late creative period.


When we say “late Chopin” are we closer to, for instance, the phenomenon of “late Mozart” or to “late Liszt”? In his last years of life, Mozart brought forth works of an expressive formal maturity and of a language of clear communicability which, simultaneously, was directed toward “all of humankind.” Mozart’s life, however, was interrupted at an absurdly premature age, when he was only thirty-five. The last piano works of Liszt are radical sound experiments, breaking ties with both tradition and what was commonly understood as the relation of the work to the external world. Liszt no longer cared for this resonance, but died as a seventy-five year old artist; his late style—a style of old age.

From such a perspective, Chopin is in the middle. The biographical background of his last works allows us to assign them a place not far from the late works of Beethoven on the one hand and of Mendelssohn on the other; in saying this, I do not wish to suggest that this article aims to find analogies between the late works of these artists. I borrow the expression “late style” or “style of old age” from Mieczysław Wallis. This distinguished art historian in his book on the late works of great artists distinguishes an artist’s “late style” as “a style of a clearly separated late phase of the artist’s work” and the “style of old age” as the characteristic style for the artist after the age of sixty-five (within which Wallis distinguishes a “style of late old age”, or “style of an artist roughly after age seventy-five”). Such strict distinctions are not taken into consideration in the very practice of Wallis’ book, which, despite its title, is dedicated almost exclusively to the “styles of old age” or the “styles of late old age.” [1] The concept of “late style” apparently appropriates and governs the other two. Perhaps, such matters depend upon the elegance of their formulation, but, nevertheless, in discussing the works of Chopin, regardless the degree of precision, the expression “late style” remains valid, even though Chopin died prematurely.

In spite of the fact that Chopin was older than Wackenroder, Keats, Novalis, Shelley, Schubert, Byron and many others at his death, he is included in the amazingly large group of Romantics who died young. Even if we could extract from relevant humanistic texts a formulation for a syndrome that could generally be defined as “late style,” the works of these artists who died so young would eventually not fall under this syndrome because, out of the sad workings of fate, they did not have the privilege of reaching the fullness of existential-artistic experience.

In the case of Chopin, however, are we able to talk of a typically Romantic death? In other words, does his death inscribe itself into the answer to the question that has been puzzling humanists: Why did Romantics die so young? In a passionate discussion several years ago in the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Science, a poetic metaphor surfaced to explain this phenomenon: In addition to the factors of biography, history, etc., the “Romantic spirit” was blamed for these premature deaths. This metaphor appears, according to one of the participants in the discussion, in the Uhland ballad Der Wirtin Töchterlein. The images of this ballad, fashioned in the “Volksliedton” favored by the Uhland, represent a topos typical for the Romantics of being acquainted with death—a topos marked both by fascination and fear. With its image of “unveiling” and “veiling” the face of the landlady’s dead daughter with a shroud, the ballad shows the precarious balance on the border between life and death. [2] But, Romanticism is also a revolt: “the first half of the century is a rebellion against life as it is, a rebellion to the end, to death.” In the face of the loss of hope for authenticity and a sense of life, a Romantic living in the world is at the same time somehow dead for this world; he feels that life is “like being dead while still living, from which physical death seems much better.” The paradoxical explanation is: Romantics “were dying because they wanted very much to live.” [3]

The diagnosis of “Wertherism” is particularly appropriate for Polish Romantic poetry, but does not work well in Chopin’s case. Only once, in his youth, while feeling lonely in a foreign land without news from his relatives, did Chopin lift up the shroud hiding the face of death and feel like someone dead. [4] He did not forget this moving experience for a long time, but fascination with death would remain foreign to him just as the Romantic rebellion against reality would remain foreign to him as well. Completely engaged in his art, caught in a network of multiplying acquaintances and friendships, absorbed in the atmosphere of the world in which he lived and within which he held court with keen awareness—Chopin, from the first days of his stay in the capitol of France, “understood and loved Paris” and “did not write a drama” with his own life. [5]

Chopin’s style of life, as we know, was not typically Romantic. We can make inferences about his cultural experience outside of music and, especially, about his interest in literature only on the basis of scarce documents—and these could be read as unflattering for the artist’s relationship with art. Though paintings from the Dresden gallery gave him a quasi-musical feeling [6], several years later George Sand, who witnessed Chopin’s disputes on art with Delacroix, noted: “His thought can be expressed only through music. . . . He comprehends neither painting nor sculpture. Michelangelo terrifies him, Rubens frightens. . .” [7] Although he created one of the most accomplished chapters in Romantic art, Chopin seems to soar above Romanticism itself, which touched him more deeply with its authentic air only once—in Scotland, the cradle of Romanticism, that “beautiful country of Walter Scott.” [8] Finally, Chopin did not belong to the Polish community in exile, which, although divided and quarrelsome, shared in common political failure, a fallen homeland, and the destruction of their private lives.

Both older and newer Chopinographers, including admiring artists of different ages, have tried to grasp the phenomenon of Chopin’s specific spiritual independence. Thus, we find such sentiments as: “In the very nature of his genius, Chopin’s escapes all attempts to classify it”; “His was an unusual intelligence brought up on Voltaire, an obviously French clarity of view”; “He had spiritual energy, a persistence of effort and perseverance in getting to a planned task”; his “otherness” hidden beneath his perfect assimilation intensified his sense of independence. [9] Chopin was hailed unambiguously as a “classic” [10] and a poet in words accentuating his atemporal nature: .” . . genius in the full sense of the word. He is not only a virtuoso, but a poet-he is able to manifest the poetry which imbues his soul; he is a poet of tones and nothing can surpass the delight when he sits at his piano and improvises. He is not a Pole then, not a Frenchman, not a German—he betrays his higher origin: from the land of Mozart, Raphael, Goethe.” [11]

We look at these fragments of Chopin’s reception in order to discuss his late works. While situating him to some extent outside of historical periods and divisions in art, Chopin’s reception teaches us that it is futile to impose on his oeuvre any Romantic formulation of a life interrupted with its implication that the works he did not get a chance to create would have attained perfection. Although Chopin was allowed a relatively short creative life, his art is complete; as Iwaszkiewicz wrote in comparing the tempo of Chopin’s and Liszt’s creative development: “Nature distributed this development in such a way that it was inversely proportional to the length of life.” [12]

In this way, we approach the problem of periodization. Early scholars of Chopin put forth a claim of an unchanging (as if presupposed) perfection of his musical language; although this thesis is no longer tenable, its rejection does not signify any drastic polarization of critical views. The fact is that the specific continuity of métier—the absence of visible breakthroughs in the development of his style—generated a discussion of periodization and many of its variants after the year 1939. In Polish Chopin studies, one of the recent proposals is Mieczysław Tomaszewski’s periodization (1985) which distinguishes eight phases closely connected to the biography of the composer. In this article, however, I argue for Tomaszewski’s (1979) earlier division of Chopin’s work into five periods; in this division, “the last period” includes the years 1845/6-1849 and is only insignificantly longer than what Tomaszewski later (1985) labeled the “phase of post-Romantic propositions” (1846-1849). This difference is, however, quite significant. The criteria Tomaszewski used in 1979 to isolate particular periods (like his criteria in 1985) are both stylistic-technical and biographical. Among the biographical criteria, there is a statement to which I assign a fundamental, governing role. Tomaszewski writes, among other things, that “perhaps particularly in this last period, Chopin’s work overlaps with his life; it takes on autobiographical features.” [13] My article aims to strengthen Tomaszewski’s thesis concerning the autobiographical character of the Chopin’s late work with one caveat: although we notice in the biography of Chopin a nella miseria phase, his most outstanding late works cannot be taken as simple manifestations of pessimism. On the contrary, their primary tendency overcomes negative feelings to manifest the spiritual strength of the artist. I would like to take one more step to delineate the phrase “autobiographical features,” and for this we will look at Wallis’ book for a substantiation of my position.

From the features discussed in the humanities as characteristic of late periods, I have chosen only those which can be related not only to painting, sculpture, and literature, but also to music. Thus, in the previously mentioned authors, one can read that in the late phases of their creative lives, some great artists, “while hurrying up to express themselves and despising to explain themselves, abbreviate to suggest more.” [14]Another characteristic feature of late work is impressionism specifically understood as “a form of life and an expression of old age” manifested through a reduction of psychology, fragmentary composition, sketchiness, and obscurity, all of which suggest rather than describe irregularity of composition. [15] Furthermore, it has been noticed that the late phase of a great artist’s creativity acquires an introverted character and is followed by a tendency to merge elements previously clearly separated. [16] Also, the expression of experience in late works tends to be “uncanny to the point of incomprehensibility” and to be marked by the separation of tradition from “dialogues with eternity.” [17] On the other hand, “referring to one’s past,” [18] which obviously modifies the relation to tradition, is also quite common. From this set of features, at least two appear in significant works of Chopin’s last period, i.e., the “introvert character” and “referring to one’s past.” Both are clearly of an autobiographical nature.

Chopin’s most distinguished late work is undoubtedly the Sonata in G Minor for Piano and Cello (Opus 65; 1846-47). The origin of Chopin’s affection for the cello, the only instrument besides the piano for which he wrote important works, can be traced to the chamber concerts which he used to attend in Warsaw as well as to Chopin’s charming experience while visiting the amateur composer Prince Antoni Radziwiłł in 1829. The first expression of this affection—the Trio in G Minor for Piano, Violin, and Cello (Opus 8)—is certainly comparable to the First and Second Piano Concertos (Opus 11 and Opus 21; 1830, 1829), which Chopin dedicated to Prince Radziwiłł. The first performance of the trio took place in the late autumn of 1829—most likely after Chopin heard Beethoven’s last trio at Kessler’s, which made a great impression on the young composer. The Sonata for Piano and Cello clearly refers to the youthful Trio; regardless of any other connections, both works show the influence of some elements of Beethoven’s style, which are more apparent at the beginning and end of Chopin’s mature period.

The hints of Beethoven in Chopin’s works and the influence of Beethoven’s sonatas on Chopin’s sonatas was already discussed in inter-war Chopinology. More recently, Zofia Lissa, whose two large publications on the subject have made the greatest contribution in demonstrating the influence of Beethoven upon Chopin, dispelled a certain prejudice on the subject—namely, that Chopin did not appreciate Beethoven because the latter was, in Liszt’s words, “too grandiose an example.”[19] Lissa resolves the seeming contradiction between Chopin’s statement about preferring Bach and Mozart to Beethoven and the unquestionable evidence of Beethoven’s influence upon Chopin in the only possible way: Chopin was under Beethoven’s influence without being fully aware of it. I fully concur with Lissa’s explanation, especially in the light of the traditional hermeneutic theory of the partial unawareness of geniuses. In both publications, Lissa describes reminiscences and formal solutions which are created by the deeper connections between specific works of Beethoven and Chopin. Lissa does not address Chopin’s chamber works, although the analysis of the “Beethovenisms” in these works in the context of the problematics of the late style would seem to be quite important.

The professional critic can find much to say regarding the form, details of composition, and principles of transforming the material in the chamber works. These phenomena are difficult to distinguish through direct observation, however, due to the effect of the individual musical idiom [literally: idiolect] which governs those hidden relations. A hermeneutician, on the other hand, who enters “the circle of common understanding” must take into consideration more than just the scholarly reception of the works. This is why the hermeneutician is most interested in the audible reminiscences which can be grasped immediately and which, as Eggebrecht would put it, strike the “aesthetic understanding;” this functions in the cognitive understanding of a particular work as a pre-understanding [Vorverständnis]. I would like, however, to explain this mechanism further. These reminiscences are not quotations or quasi-quotations (which appear rather rarely); even though structural similarities in the notes of a motif are easily demonstrated, these, in a new context, can easily escape the listener’s attention, whose process of understanding follows the logic of the musical sense. This, of course, results in different opinions among the critics, some of whom “hear” while others “do not hear” the similarities discovered in the notes.

When considering Chopin’s Trio, Opus 8, from the point of view of Beethoven’s influence, what is most striking is, first of all, the musical gesture which determines the similarities between the works. According to Rousseauian aesthetics (and their modern variants), this gesture is always an expression of something so that one can say that the object of observation is the “expressive-gestural” layer of the heard works. [20] One would search the dictionaries in vain for a definition of the musical gesture; musicologically, this term has a certain appeal, but its meaning is usually understood by its context. Dahlhaus notices that the concept of the musical gesture, simultaneously contains “something distinct” and “something unclear.” [21] In tonal passages, the gesture of mature classical music introduces a special type of action; it represents, according to Eggebrecht, a “new type of expression, which is neither affect nor mood, but action, a type of lively expression based on the motion stimulated and regulated by the system of measures. [22] This description is to some extent metaphorical. The category of activity is brought up because an irrefutable logic governs the harmonic processes in classical music, which is why this activity characterizes the entire gesture of classical music. By generalizing the concept of gesture, we can apply it to musical passages in which “action” withdraws into the background leaving space for the expressively articulated “mood.” The specificity of mood can evolve from the “activity” of the gesture per se because its nature remains the same within a single work; in Beethoven (especially in the middle period of his career), the “activity” of the musical gesture is simultaneously immensely well-balanced due to the specificity of the harmonic means which were at the disposal of the music of mature classicism.

Chopin’s youthful Trio, Opus 8, contains examples of musical gestures of an unquestionably Beethovenian character. There is a striking affinity of gesture in the first subject of the Finale with the principle subject of the Rondo from Beethoven’s Third Piano Concerto. On the other hand, in the third movement of the Trio, Opus 8, the Adagio sostenuto, we notice more sustained similarities in the musical “action” and the individual links of the expressive-gestural process, which sometimes connect to each other in a manner which resembles the Beethovenian paradigm. This becomes obvious when we compare this movement of the Trio with Beethoven’s Adagiomolto from the Piano Sonata in C Minor, Opus 10, especially measures 5-16 and 21-28 in Chopin and measures 1-12 and 24-27 in Beethoven. In these sections, this “distinctness” and “unclarity” enable us to make an analogy between these composers which now seems obvious to our “aesthetic understanding.”

The masterpiece of “late” Chopin, the Sonata for Piano and Cello, Opus 65, clearly refers to the chamber pieces of the composer’s youth. There are striking similarities in terms of the key (G Minor), the four part cycle, the position of the scherzo as the second part of the cycle, the Romantic mood of the slow parts, and the dynamism of the finales. Differences in the treatment of the formal problems in these works may be ascribed to the years separating their composition; thus, they attest to the truth in the statement that in the late phases of their careers, great artists are “aware of their mastery, and feel like all-powerful lords in their domain, and exercise their rights to absolute freedom in the use of their art’s measures/means.” [23] Thus, by omitting the first subject, the reprise of the first Allegro takes the same form as in the Sonatas Opus 35 and Opus 65. Also, the Scherzo, which in Opus 8 strictly followed the classical model of a three-part form, in Opus 65, while the form is respected, it is treated with greater freedom. Furthermore, while in Opus 8, the tonal relation of the Scherzo to the Trio is a classical of a fifth apart whereas in Opus 65 the relation is variant-like d-D. The chromatic harmony in the Scherzo from 1829 cannot be compared with the expansiveness of the material, the conciseness, and even the allusiveness of the modulatory phrases of its equivalent from the year 1846. Both slow parts are written according to the pattern of a complex two-part form of the A-A’; however, the Adagio molto from Opus 65 is less drawn out than the Adagio sostenuto from Opus 8: it is concise and, despite its melodiousness (by the way, a typical Chopinesque cantabile), full of characteristic anxiety. The basis for this evolutionary structure is the sentence—an open unit—and the chromatic modulations between phrases, especially in part A’ (B-major—A-flat major, measures 15-17). This creates the interesting effect of Romantic irony, of “destroying the illusion,” of “the author showing himself through the work,” of “the author distancing himself from the temptation of subjectivism;” [24] in a word,it is an effect of a certain aesthetic game (rarely encountered in Chopin’s works), whose shortened modulatory phrases strengthen the specific destructive function. Finally, the comparison of the two works shows how far the path of Chopin’s creative development had led him from the Warsaw Trio to his late Opus 65. Whereas in the finale of Opus 8 we find a clear rondo, in Opus 65 we have only a reminiscence of this formal rule realized through a subtle reference to the quasi-refrain A in section B—measures 23-24 and 102-103. In general however, this finale—a tarantella in character—takes the form of A-B-C-D-A’-B’-C’-D’ + coda; this apparently sectional form is in fact a sequential form resulting from more than just the harmonic process occuring in the space of the work (the variant repetitions of the parts creates changes of tonality). [25]

In this crystallization of the form, the manner in which part A is repeated as part A’ plays an important role by taking the entire piece to a different formal level: at measure 73 in A’ the canon-structure appears when the cello introduces the first measure of the four-measure main musical element; the piano immediately imitates the first subject of the measure in the octave, the highest range of the piano, while the cello plays the second measure of the subject. The piano again imitates the second measure while the cello plays the third measure, which the piano does not imitate. Starting from measure 78, the piano now initiates a canonic imitation of the subject; this time the conclusion of the four-measure leading voice is somewhat altered and the imitation in the second measure becomes freer (it changes while the intervals of the imitation are imitated), but, on the other hand, it governs the entire subject period of four measures. Immediately after this imitation, a third one begins. Again, at the first entrance of the piano, the imitation of the subject changes and becomes freer (with regard to the intervals, the octaves become sevenths); once more, only three measures of the subject are imitated. Naturally, only the highest range of the piano is used in such imitation. The polyphony takes place against the background of the rich texture of piano’s other ranges; the texture itself is variable and changing. Thus, the return of part A and introduction of A’ becomes the central point of the entire form giving it its specific weight; in light of the return of A’, the returning sections of B-C-D as B’-C’-D’—in addition to the aforementioned tonal changes and the variations—assume a new shape. The form used in the Finale is thus based on repetitions, but the means Chopin employs are more complex than regular variations, emphasizing the accumulation of the entering forms. Moreover, they deepen the entering forms and include them in new connections.

Finally, we need to consider the coda of the Finale which comes closest to the lightheartedness of part C. Most importantly, the coda is extended (into thirty-two measures) and it appears in a consistent major key; due to this, the last part of the Sonata, Opus 65, is indeed a finale in the Beethovenian sense of the word, which brings a concluding brightness to the work. Such a finale represents the “overcoming of negative states” constituted by the conflicts and tensions which imbues this sonata cycle.

Does the polyphony and very character of the finale of the Sonata, Opus 65, definitively prove a conscious reference to the “late” Beethoven? Throughout the Sonata, a general Beethovian paradigm manifests periodically itself; furthermore, polyphonic finales occur in works of both Beethoven’s middle and late career. The unquestionable influence of Beethoven makes its mark also (just as in Trio, Opus 8) in the gestural range. As is to be expected in a mature and excellent art, within this range it would be difficult to distinguish the influence of specific works; rather, a Beethovian geste imaginaire rises from Chopin’s allegros and rondos. It is a gesture of great internal dynamics, which simultaneously strikes us with its simplicity; a gesture which focuses within itself the basic dominant-tonality conflict and which represents its melodic concretization. This gesture also embodies the balanced expression which is the fundamental category of mature classicism. Such gesture is hardly thematic; rather, it is characteristic of marginal and final thoughts. If this gesture only confirms the rules of tonality through the beauty of simple musical formulas in Beethoven, in Chopin it brings the communicative moments of intensified rhetoricity into turbulent and opaque sound processes and which do not include any other significant moments of rest. This applies especially to the opening and closing movements of Sonata, Opus 65. The totality of the development of the motifs in these movements herald the onset of Neo-Romanticism. The Beethovian gesture only introduces an element of balance and classicizes Chopin’s masterpiece of 1846. the Sonata, Opus 65, echoes Beethoven’s chamber works of his middle period-for instance, the Sonata for Piano and Violin, Opus 47, with its intensive, highly integrated dialogue between the two instruments (which one also hears in Chopin’s Sonata) and whose finale has also the character of a tarantella. If, while composing Opus 65, Chopin felt less independent than in his piano works, it is also understandable that in his mind he followed the pattern for chamber works of the highest quality.

There is something, however, in the Sonata, Opus 65, that forces us to look at it from a broader perspective than a mere return to the problems of craft explored in his early chamber music, the genre which Chopin abandoned in Paris. This can be found in the first subject of the first Allegro of the Sonata. Distinctly different in its youthful simplicity from all the other themes in this work, it is governed by an artistic wisdom which knows all the secrets of the craft. This different subject, by being situated the way that it is, plays the role of a motto for the entire work. This subject, composed similarly to those of the Warsaw piano concertos (using syncopated rhythm in the cantilena that soon develops into a brilliant passage), brings the earlier concertos to the listener’s mind from the very first measures of the Sonata. The subject is a song of youth, a “moment” recollected from the admired past which, nevertheless, cannot “last” because the flood of new experiences, places, people, thoughts, and impressions demands that he speak with a different language and to different listeners. It is precisely this subject-motto of “referring to its own past” in the Sonata, Opus 65, that enables us to think in a new way about other late works of Chopin and to look for autobiographical accents in such works as the Barcarolle in F-sharp major, Opus 60 (1845-46) and the song Melodia (“Z gór gdzie dźwigali,” 1847).

Several older critical works inspired more by intuition and sensitivity than by “lenses and learning ” have helped define this perspective. Regarding the Barcarolle, critics have paid attention to such features as its Italianisms [26]; its “extreme solutions” in terms of the organization of sounds (ostinato, a certain manifestation of intervallic thinking and its employment of a new way of using trills patterned after Beethoven’s late sonatas. [27] This work, so admired by such artists as Hans von Bülow, stimulated the imagination of some critics to give it meaning beyond the musical if only by its unique standing as the only Barcarolle which Chopin composed. An example of this can be seen in the excellent interpretation which Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz [28] published in a Warsaw literary magazine in 1933. In this interpretation, Iwaszkiewicz employs a hermeneutics in the style of Kretzschmar, differing from its original only through his unusual richness of vision and beauty of the literary form. [29] Thus, Iwaszkiewicz, who even in his prose is a subtle landscape poet, writes that Chopin’s Barcarolle is a work representing landscape not by describing it, but by “painting it impressionistically” (“this landscape is something undefined—its water and forest do not have clear contours”—as opposed to, for instance, the Ballade in F Minor). This musical landscape is so suggestive that it brings to the audience an archetypal “metaphysical fear” and “longing;” far from being unpleasant, however, this inexplicable pavor nocturnus brings a “blissful fear like the thought of a walk in the dark water on a summer’s night.” The music, then, evokes a landscape which, in its literary representation, has “the murmur of trees rooted like shadows on dark shores” and “the perfume of leaves, soft and rustling, which greets that which is green at daytime and that which is but a murmur at night” and “reeds” which “do not bind as to earth with their weak leaves” and thus “we walk on the water into nothingness.” The poet stresses several time that this encounter with nature (through, as the literary critics would phrase it, the “aquatic” melody of the Barcarolle) carries with it a certain catharsis: “the great cleansing power (dolce sfogato) of this piece lies in its pantheistic elements, it liberation from all the burden of the everyday.” Barcarolle Opus 60 is attuned to “something unknown, something impossible to define, something that has a liberating effect upon humans by communicating to them another world.” The “something unknown” puzzles Iwaszkiewicz, himself a great artist and both a biographer of Chopin as well as connoisseur of his music, leading him to muse: “There are hidden meanings behind Chopin’s Barcarolle“—meanings which, according to the poet, are veiled in impenetrable mystery.

According to Iwaszkiewicz, for the “questions bursting in such moments of dolce sfogato (. . .) no answers are given in this world.” [30] Karol Stromenger publishing in the same literary magazine, did, however, propose an answer. [31] Before I discuss it, let me first attend to two other publications. Interestingly, Maurice Ravel, in the last paragraph of an article that Le Courier Musical published alongside other texts on Chopin in 1910, focuses on the Barcarolle, concluding with these sentences:[32]

In the Barcarolle glowing harmonies clothe the subject, flexible and subtle in thirds. The melodic line is constant. In one moment, the “melopea” disappears, it is suspended and then re-created delicately, softly, tempted by magical accords. The intensity increases. The new subject erupts, full of splendid lyricism, thoroughly Italian. Everything calms down. From the depth, a quick luminous trail rises and floats shimmering above the refined and tender accords. Some mysterious apotheosis comes to mind.

The very last sentence of Ravel’s “impression” explains the puzzling title of John Rink’s text. [33] The author undoubtedly knows Ravel’s text (he even refers to it in his first footnote), but the word “apotheosis” in the title foreshadows a Schenkerian analysis, does not point to the author’s agenda but, as his argument implies, is simply understood as the layering of climaxes within all the elements of the music and as a general culmination of the entire work. Rink locates the “apotheosis” in measures 93-103; i.e., in the second (and stronger) representation of the section, which Rink marks as B(2); it thus occurs in the second thought, a developmental variation of the second subject, which is characterized by a lively and “thoroughly Italian” character. Does not Rink’s text suggest that the dolce sfogato, the “luminous trail,” constitutes the “mysterious apotheosis”? But to trace a specific place in the score does not seem, in this case, the most important aim. The Barcarolle as a whole takes the character of an ecstatic apotheosis and, thus, of deification, although we do not know to what or to whom it refers: nature? a specific person? some vision? For the answer to the above questions we must now turn to Karol Stromenger’s aforementioned article.

Strangely enough, Stromenger’s interpretation, as opposed to “the Kretzschmarian type” of interpretation offered by Iwaszkiewicz, follows the spirit of an older hermeneutics, namely Scheringian hermeneutics, by connecting the interpreted composition with a specific literary work. [34] In this case, the literary work in question is Zygmunt Krasiński’s Przedświt [henceforth: The Dawn]. On the one hand, this poem contains an inspiring vision of the resurrected Poland historiosophically rooted in the poet’s thoughts; on the other hand, there is the poem’s specific content and aura as defined by its tight connection with a “messianic” personal layer: The Dawn is a poetic homage to Delfina Potocka. Stromenger does not mention this connection let alone the overlapping of these two spheres; his interpretation is too brief to bring to light the broader significance of the literary background of the Barcarolle. And, although Stromenger’s invaluable contribution draws our attention to such a genealogy for the Barcarolle, his loose remarks occassionally seem psychologically inconsequential and need to be further explored and integrated.

In the title of his article, Stromenger calls the Barcarolle “messianic,” although in the text he says the following: “Chopin did not have much sympathy for the messianic doctrine; he considered Towiański a charlatan and maintained at the very least a sceptical attitude toward his teachings.” Thus, the double question arises: Why would Chopin be inspired by The Dawn and why would he write a messianic work? These questions require some comment. Messianism was not an invention of Towiański, for the idea of mission already existed in antiquity and the Middle Ages and had been rediscovered in the nineteenth century, perhaps most notably by French thinkers. [35] Polish messianism contained ideas of progress derived from French Romanticism, elements of post-Kantian speculative philosophy, and Hegelian principles of the self-realization of the Geist. In his contemplation of the human path to God and in constructing the intellectual content of his works, Krasiński was also influenced also by the ideas of Hoene-Wroński (whose Prodrom mesjanizmu appeared in Paris in 1831). [36] Krasiński artistically presented his system of historiosophy (Romantic providencialism rooted in Vico, Herder and Michelet, which claimed divine transcendence and the integration of Providence into the created world) as early as the year 1835 in the Un-divine Comedy—this is important to remember since Towiański becomes active in Paris only in the beginning of 1841. [37] Scholars specializing in Krasiński’s oeuvre consistently emphasize the rationalism of his messianic concepts. Juliusz Kleiner, for instance, wrote that, as a thinker, Krasiński wanted to “place philosophical certainty against Towianski’s prophecies” [38] and Henryk Galle (1924), noting the connection between Krasiński’s historiosophy and the neo-Schellingianists who wanted to combine religious views with science, opposed Krasiński’s attitude to that of the other two Polish poet-seers: [39]

Krasiński’s messianism . . . differs from similar views in other poets . . . mainly by the absence of a mystical element; it does not rely on a belief in revelation as in, e.g., Mickiewicz (or even more so in Słowacki); its character is more rational than intuitive and, besides, for Krasiński the historical function of Poland constitutes an inseparable part of the entire philosophical-historiosophical system; it is more logically grounded.

This is the ideological agenda of The Dawn and it posits that the decisive moment for Poland’s spiritual evolution has come because (as Krasiński writes in the preface), “the spirit of Poland has become its own conscience, it has acquired a self-awareness and has perceived itself as the chosen tool of history to enable its progress;” as such, Poland would lead humanity into a new epoch along a “path leading to the Church of humanity.” This agenda could indeed fascinate Chopin or, at least, not leave him indifferent. He was, after all, prepared for statements like that: he listened together with George Sand to Mickiewicz’s first course on Slavic literature (which Mickiewicz started in the College de France a few months before he met Towiański). Only under the influence of a deeply thought out messianic historiosophy—such as that presented by Krasiński—could Chopin, while alluding to events in Galicia, write to Fontana in 1848: .” . . there will be no way to prevent horrible things from happening, but at the end of all of that, there is Poland, splendid and great, briefly: Poland.” [40] This sentence and its context is fully understandable when, in light of Chopin’s sensitivity, we compare it with the following declaration from The Dawn:

“I’m telling you—I’m happy!
My Poland—Poland will be”!

We might add to this another source of Krasiński’s historiosophy, P.S. Ballanche’s belief that “the constant progress of humanity occurs through suffering, through endless victims and expiations.” In this way, bloody historical cataclysms such as the French Revolution acquire an higher sense: without “difficult trials” there could be no “expiations,” the determiners progress. [41]

One should also ask how Chopin became familiar with the ideas from The Dawn—did he actually have the text in his hands? Krasiński’s poem was published in Paris in May, 1843. Although Chopin does not mention this poem in his correspondence from 1843-1845, we can suspect that Leonard Niedźwiecki served as the intermediary between the composer and the work. A participant in the November Uprising who took up permanent residence in Paris after 1839, Niedźwiecki, “helpful and dedicated to the Polish cause, gained a common respect and played a serious role in the literary-artistic movement of the Great Emigration.” In his diary from 1840 till 1850, Niedźwiecki wrote about people, events, and the concert life in Paris. Unfortunately, his remarks on Chopin from the beginning of 1843 do not contribute significantly to our understanding of the matter, but the description of a personal meeting with Chopin at a music evening at Czartoryscy’s attests that Niedźwiecki belonged to a circle which insisted that Chopin write “national opera.” [42]

Finally, let us add that in 1842 Niedźwiecki published in Paris a small work by Antoni Bukaty entitled Polska w apostazji . . . i w apoteozie . . . [Poland in Apostasy . . . and in Apotheosis . . .]. For Bukaty, a theoretician of Polish messianism and a popularizer of Hoene-Wroński, “apotheosis” describes the “rebirth and resurrection of the Nation in the society.” Bukaty writes: “Apotheosis in order to be rooted must be rational and voluntary, and thus proclaimed by civilized nations . . . To be complete, it must originate from love for humanity . . . To be human, it must work to define the eternal destinations of Humanity, for which every Nation and every nationality is only a tool.” [43]

To determine where and to what extent the word “apotheosis” stands for the rebirth of Poland and was popular among Polish messianists is beyond the scope of this article. However, the use of this word in Ravel’s description of the Barcarolle is, in the context of the question, puzzling. So let us return for a moment to Ravel’s article published on the hundredth anniversary of Chopin’s birth because there are certain suspicions about its authenticity. The preserved copy of Ravel’s letter to René Doire, the editor-in-chief of Le Courrier Musical, includes complaints about “cuts and changes” that the paper made to the original article and warned that Ravel would cease his cooperation with the magazine. [44] The question then arises whether Ravel used the word “apotheosis” or whether it was added by an editor or perhaps someone else altogether. Furthermore, can such a potential editorial change serve as the basis for tracing signs of the Polish emigration of some seventy years earlier through this text? These questions of course must remain without answers.

Stromenger, as previously noted, abandons the “messianic” motif that appeared in his title and mentions it only in passing, which is understandable in view of the character of his publication. He puts forth a biographical theme by declaring that Delfina Potocka was the intermediary between the composer and poet. This is, of course, true, but it seems that Stromenger reverses the roles that Potocka played in the biographies of the two artists. In the case of Chopin, the sources confirm his sincere admiration and warmth toward a person so richly endowed by nature and whose charisma is remarked upon by all (and conveyed by none) of the descriptions known to us. Stromenger brings up Chopin’s well-known statement from a letter to his family (a fragment which is frequently misinterpreted): “Pani Delfina Potocka, whom you know, how I love.” [45] For anybody who has studied Chopin’s correspondence and the opinions of his artist-friends or who has considered the social structure of Chopin’s environment and his position in the French and Polish aristocratic circles of Paris and who knows the type of emotionalism of Chopin’s time, this phrase will mean more-or-less the same as other expressions Chopin employed even in his mature years to address those to whom he felt close and on whom he bestowed—either briefly or eternally—his sincere, enthusiastic affection. Thus: “You know how I love and admire Moscheles”—”I love you and I turn to you as to my brother”— “Write and love me as I love you”—”Love me as I love you”—” . . I always received proofs of her kindness—and I love her so deeply.” [46] This is the consistent style of the Warsaw letters to Tytus and other friends; this style emerged from the emotionalism which established a cult of friendship and heart and an adoration for correspondence and for epistolary novels.

And now for the role of Delfina Potocka in The Dawn, which Stromenger does not explain. The Dawn is, indeed, a kind of unfinished Barcarolle; it is, as Stromenger says, “Krasiński’s ride with Delfina Potocka on Lake Como.” Delfina is truly the “sister” from The Dawn, but this poetic trip is not a dream but a memory—a reliving of the days which Krasiński spent with Delfina Potocka in Molo di Gaeta near Naples and in Varenna at Lake Como. “The Dawn is a poetic representation of the memory of ecstasy,” wrote Juliusz Kleiner (1924, 18-19):

An ecstasy based on strong spiritual factors, which makes reflection upon it something other than elegy. . . . The idealizing thought perceives in the wonder of nature the appearance of God and in the beloved inspiration incarnate. . . . With a strength of mood surpassing immediate stimuli and overflowing life itself, even more the entire world, a thought spontaneously looks for new stimuli that can sustain the ecstasy. Everything which can delight the soul surfaces from its depths; hope awakens, certainty that the dearest wishes will come to life awakens. As the happiness of the Polish poet cannot coexist with the unhappiness of his homeland-so, perhaps, is Poland resurrected as well. In such moments, a human being desires a justification for such a mood, especially if one is, as Krasiński was, an intellectual. Thus, the feeling of happiness, strength, pride becomes justified by the possession of new truth, new faith. . . . To lay the foundations for his exalted feeling, the poet leads his spiritual sister to the new land of his faith and hope:

I will announce you a higher miracle
Above depressions, above suffering.

In The Dawn, Potocka is a typical Romantic heroine: “a representative of the ideal, the messenger of a higher reality.” However, such a representation does not come to life without the universal patterns of great poetry. Kleiner adds that her portrayal recalls Dante’s representation of Beatrice in the Divine Comedy, when he “apotheosizes her as his saint-protectress, as the one who leads him to the mystical light of Paradise and allows him to approach the highest truths, the highest values.” [48] Therefore, in the “apotheosis”, the messianic leitmotif meets a personal one, which by the very nature of such an intersection ceases to be merely personal.

Let us quote once more Kleiner, a great expert on Polish Romanticism: [48]

The Dawn enclosed in a uniform experience the highest values of life while marking them with individual creativity. The beauty of nature, love for a woman, a bright and soothing view of the world, feeling and understanding for God, love of a nation and humanity and faith in their future, faith in the victory of the good, the thought of the endless development of spirit—all of this, as a realization of the threefold ideal of beauty, truth, and good, towers with a bright harmony above the consciousness of the pain.

To use a different language, this “uniform experience” undoubtedly carries the features of an Erlebnis hermeneutic and was embodied in a work-a poetic “expression” (Ausdruck)—of this “experience.” For Chopin, the poetic work was a “cultural experience” (Bildungserlebnis) which spoke with such force to his “primal experience” (Urerlebnisse, to use Gundolf’s well-known distinction) that, complemented by “imitative experience” (Nacherlebnisse), brought to life a musical “expression” of this special cultural experience—Barcarolle, Opus 60. Dilthey’s classic thesis on the source of creativity finds its justification in such approach.

I am convinced that if even one tone sounded false in this “imitative experience,” The Dawn would not have inspired Chopin and he would not have identified himself with its “apotheosis” fully. Here we might ask: Why should we give so much credence to Stromenger’s argument? Perhaps J. Chantavoine is right when he suggests that the Barcarolle was simply a result of George Sand’s stories about Venice and the gondolier’s songs. [50] Stromenger tries to associate specific lines from The Dawn with specific parts of the Barcarolle; however, I will not analyze these connections further. I accept Stromenger’s proposition in the first place because there is some special intuition in it that suits the hermeneutic intention of my text. If in Opus 60 Chopin really “musicalized” The Dawn, then, from such a perspective, the Barcarolle turns out to be in some captivatingly clear way the psychic reaction of Chopin-the-artist to various negative feelings afflicting him from 1843. This would confirm the “pre-understanding” of the late works which I set forth at the beginning of this text, namely that the late works have an autobiographical nature.

In this context, the connection between the Barcarolle and the Sonata for Piano and Cello, Opus 65 becomes clear. They were composed at the same time and both are marked with the introvertism of the late works, although the composer’s strict discipline of craft, his moderation, and his personal secretiveness gave both works impeccable formal proportions and an indispensable degree of communicability. It is, thus, an introvertism, but an introvertism introvertically veiled. “The return to the themes of youth” is another manifestation of introvertism, but we can now see that this return was not just nostalgia, which would in some ways prove the composer’s limitations, or just an attempt to face again the compositional problems of his youthful years; in composing his late masterpieces Opus 60 and Opus 65, Chopin restores to life the sphere of values in which he had always believed in. Through this restoration, he rebuilds and exalts his self, his self as it truly used to be in the depths of his being. It does not matter that this exaltation assumes the guise of an Italian gondolier. At this moment of his life (after 1843), it was a gesture of a moral strength and independence, a gesture about which he was perhaps only partially aware, but which had to be made given the circumstances of that period—i.e., from the feelings of irrevocable loss (from the death of his father); from the perspective of the unthinkable and, for the composer, inexcusable loneliness (the first symptoms of the approaching separation from George Sand, which was deeply hurtful for Chopin, was soon confirmed by Sand’s novel Lucretia Floriani); and from his disappointment and helplessness in the face of Sand’s dishonest treatment of someone whom Chopin, in the name of the moral right, had cared for all of his life (the unsuccessful marriage of Solange). Throughout his life, Chopin was absolutely independent in the realm of art, but here, in his personal life, he felt drawn into the swamp of other people’s dissonances and spiritual darkness. The bitter questions in his letter from Edinburgh to Grzymała in 1848, “Where, in the meantime, has my art gone? And where did I waste my heart? I hardly remember how they sing in the homeland” [51] must have weighed upon his mind for quite some time. Thus, the last works seem to sustain him spiritually by proving his own faithfulness to himself. They are a reinforcement of himself in the world of his own values and at the same time a farewell to this world.

But there is something else in Chopin’s late works. On the one hand, testaments to his spiritual power, these works allow a glimpse into moments of darkness and skepticism; on the other hand, they manifest the Romantic irony whose instance we indicated in Sonata, Opus 65. We find a similar phenomenon in the Barcarolle: the coda, full of accumulated dissonances from pedalled notes, destroys the illusion of a boundless lightness created by the admiration and serenity filling the rest of this work. In some ways, measures 103-110 are a bitter digression in this apotheotic work, a grimace of irony which tells us that “everything may be happening differently” and that “nothing” is fixed a priori in reality . [52] In terms of the means which help express this state of conflict without potential solutions, the coda in the Barcarolle corresponds to the chromatic language of the last song, Melody from 1847, which lacks any melodic charm. Dedicated to Delfina Potocka, this masterful miniature is clear proof of Chopin’s interest in the great messianic poetry of Poland, especially in Krasiński’s. The seven verses of the text of the song are taken from a motto of the poem Ostatni [The Last Pole] (1840-1847), which consists of the monologue of a prisoner who had fought for the Polish cause and was left as the last prisoner in the darkness of a Russian prison for unknown length of time. [53]

From the mountains, where they bore the burden of terrible crosses
They saw a promised land
They saw a light of blue rays
Down toward which, their tribe was moving
But they alone could not enter this realm
Could not sit at the wedding of life
And perhaps—they will be forgotten!

Because the gist of the poem’s ideas, as in earlier works of Krasiński, is messianic, some of its accents are optimistic and full of energy (“For from the depths of time will come the Revealer/ The promised Consoler/ . . . And we, the Poles—we knew well,/That behind this second form of Messiah/There stands nobody else but our saint Poland”). But, we can also find in this poem verses which must have cast a shadow on the thoughts and imagination of the ill and lonely composer:

For further suffering—from these earthly tortures
I do not wish to save my soul.
Love there is neither in this world nor beyond.
Everywhere is ridicule, no matter where you turn
If there is infinity, this is infinity.
No God to be father—no angel to be brother . . .
Alas, even in Poland they won’t know
On what deathbed I’m dying —
They won’t even know that in my last moments
No brotherly hand held mine.

These verses, and others of similar character, imbue the song “From the mountains where they bore” with a dark character unsoftened by a single brighter tone. This character—achieved by means which, according to R. Hamann, could be described as “the impressionism of the late style”—cannot be explained completely by the genre of the song (“the reflexive lyric,” as in Tomaszewski 1961, 79-89). One must look for its reasons in the last chapter of Chopin’s personal biography, whose features, at the end of his life, become increasingly Romantic: Chopin—like other Romantics, who died young—dies because he starts to feel that his earthly life has become like a “death while being alive.”

This is why, it seems to me, that Melody—a work almost simultaneously written with the Barcarolle and Sonata, Opus 65—becomes the fulfillment of the content of the other two. It is, in some sense, looking again into the face of the ultimate (with reference to the Stuttgart experience); it is like a lifting again a death veil from the face of the dead girl in the Uhland’s ballad, the poet whom Chopin liked. Chopin will lift this veil for the third time on 17 October 1849, but then, like the third and bravest youth from the Uhland ballad, he will do so only to kiss Death itself “an den Mund so bleich.”


[1]. Mieczysław Wallis, Późna twórczość wielkich artystów [Late creative output of great artists] (Warsaw, 1975), 9. [Back]

[2]. Jarosław Marek Rymkiewicz, “Dlaczego romantycy umierali młodo? (Zagajenie dyskusji)” [Why the Romantics died young? (The setting up of the discussion)], in Style zachowań romantycznych, Maria Janion and Maria Żmigrodzka, eds., (Warszawa 1986), 231-234. [Back]

[3]. Marta Piwińska (discussion participant), in Style zachowań romantycznych [Styles of Romantic Behaviours], Maria Janion and Maria Żmigrodzka, ed. (Warszawa, 1986), 241-245. [Back]

[4]. Bronisław E. Sydow, ed. Korespondencja Fryderyka Chopina [The Correspondence of F. Ch.], vol. 1-2 (Warsaw: PIW, 1995); cited from vol. 1, 183-185. This particular correspondence is from Stuttgart, 1831. [Back]

[5]. Expressions cited from Maria Gordon-Smith and George R. Marek, Chopin, transl. A. Szpakowska (Warszawa 1990), 70. [Back]

[6]. Sydow, Korespondencja…, vol. 1, 152. [Back]

[7]. Gordon-Smith and Marek, Chopin, 70. [Back]

[8]. Sydow, Korespondencja…, vol. 2, 281. [Back]

[9]. Adam Zamoyski, Chopin, transl. H. Sołdaczukowa (Warsaw, 1990), 180; Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, Chopin (Kraków: PWM, 1956), 79; Eduard Ganche, “Życie muzyczne Fryderyka Chopina w Paryzu,” in Chopin, Mateusz Gliński, ed. (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo “Muzyki,” 1932), 32; Ferenc Liszt, Chopin (Paris 1924, reprinted), 76. [Back]

[10]. See von Bülow in Ludwik Bronarski, Szkice Chopinowskie (Kraków: PWM, 1961), 268.[Back]

[11]. See Heine’s article in Zamoyski, Chopin, 181. [Back]

[12]. Iwaszkiewicz, Chopin, 205. [Back]

[13]. The two articles by Mieczysław Tomaszewski that are discussed in this paragraph are: “Uwagi o ewolucji stylu Chopina,” in Studia musicologica, aesthetica, theoretica, historica, Elżbieta Dziebowska, ed. (Krakow: PWM, 1979); and “Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin,” entry in Encyklopedia Muzyczna PWM, ed. Elżbieta Dziebowska, vol. 2 (Kraków: PWM, 1985). The quotation cited immediately before this footnote in the text is from “Uwagi o ewolucji…” on page 415. [Back]

[14]. This quotation is taken from the P. Guinard article about the Mannerist painter El Greco (1541-1614) in Wallis, Późna twórczość…, 201. [Back]

[15]. See R. Hamann in Wallis, Późna twórczość…, 178-79. [Back]

[16]. See A. E. Brinkmann in Wallis, Późna twórczość…, 184-188. [Back]

[17]. See H. Lützeler in Wallis, Późna twórczość…, 188-189. [Back]

[18]. Wallis, Późna twórczość…, 167-168. [Back]

[19]. Zofia Lissa, “Elementy stylu Beethovena w twórczości Fryderyka Chopina,” in Lissa, Studia nad twórczością Fryderyka Chopina (Kraków: PWM Edition, 1970). [Back]

[20]. Carl Dahlhaus, “Gestalt, Struktur, Gestus” Melos/Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik 139 no. 4 (1978), 367. [Back]

[21]. Carl Dahlhaus, “Uber Sinn und Sinnlosigkeit in der Musik,” in Dahlhaus, Schonberg und andere (Mainz 1978), 282. [Back]

[22]. Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, “Mannheimer Stil—Technik und Gehalt,” in Eggebrecht, ed. Sinn und Gehalt. Aufsatze zur musikalischen Analyse (Wilhelmshaven, 1985), 146. [Back]

[23]. Wallis, Późna twórczość…, 164. [Back]

[24]. Maria Żmigrodzka, “Ironia romantyczna,” in Słownik literatury polskiej XIX wieku [A dictionary of Polish literature of the 19th century], ed. Józef Bachorz and Alina Kowalczykowa (Wrocław, Ossolineum, 1991), 379.

[25]. Tomaszewski, “Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin”, 163. [Back]

[26]. This statement refers to two separate texts: Bronarski, Szkice Chopinowskie, 155 and 159; and Jean Chantavoine, “L’italianisme de Chopin,” Le Courrier Musical 53 no. 1 (1910), 12-15. [Back]

[27]. Wolfgang Boetticher, “Uber Einige Spatstilprobleme bei Chopin”, in The Book of the First International Musicological Congress Devoted to the Works of Fryderyk Chopin, Zofia Lissa, ed. (Warszawa: 1963), 104-106.

[28]. Jarosław Iwaskiewicz, “Barkarola Chopina”, Wiadomości Literackie (Warsaw: 1933), no. 55, 11. [Back]

[29]. See Maria Piotrowska, Tezy o możliwości hermeneutyki muzycznej w świetle 100 lat jej historii [Theses about the possibility of musical hermeneutics in the light of 100 years of its history] (Warszawa, 1990), 106-119. [Back]

[30]. See Piotrowska, Tezy o możliwości…, 106-119. [Back]

[31]. Karol Stromenger, “Mesjanistyczna ‘Barkarola’ Chopina,” in Wiadomości Literackie no. 4 (1934), 6. [Back]

[32]. Maurice Ravel, “Les Polonaises, les Nocturnes, les Impromptus, la Barcarolle, Impressions,” Le Courier Musical 13, no. 1 (1910), 31-32. [Back]

[33]. John Rink, “The Barcarolle: Auskomponierung und Apotheosis,” in Chopin Studies, ed. Jim Samson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 195-219. [Back]

[34]. See Piotrowska, Tezy o możliwości…, 119-129. [Back]

[35]. Juliusz Kleiner, “Mesjanizm narodowy w systemie Krasińskiego,” [National messianism in Krasiński’s system] (1924) in Kleiner, W kręgu historii i teorii literatury [In the realm of the history and theory of literature], Artur Hutnikiewicz, ed. (Warsaw: 1981), 335. [Back]

[36]. Hoene-Wronski. [Back]

[37]. See Maria Janion, “Introduction,” in Zygmunt Krasiński, Nie-Boska Komedia [Un-divine Comedy] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1965), 41-42; Adam Sikora, “Towiański i rozterki romantyzmu” [Towiański and the dilemmas of Romanticism] (Warszawa: 1984), 17. [Back]

[38]. Kleiner, “Mesjanizm narodowy…”, 14. [Back]

[39]. Henryk Galle, “Introduction” to Zygmunt Krasiński, Przedświt [The Dawn] (Warszawa: 1924), 17-18. [Back]

[40]. Sydow, Korespondencja…, vol. 2, 239. [Back]

[41]. Janion, “Introduction,” in Krasiński, Nie-Boska Komedia, 46. [Back]

[42]. Zofia Skorupska, “Fryderyk Chopin w relacjach Leonarda Niedźwieckiego Pamiętnik Biblioteki Kórnickiej no. 9/10 (1968). The description of Niedźwiecki is from p. 99 and the information about “national opera” is from pp. 105-106. [Back]

[43]. Antoni Bukaty, Polska w apostazji czyli w tak zwanym Russo-Slawianizmie i w apoteozie czyli w tak zwanym gallo-kosmopolityzmie jako warunkach założenia i rozwiązania problematu etnologicznego w praktyce i wiedzy [Poland in Apostasis, that is in the so-called Russo-Slovanophilism and in Apotheosis, that is in the so-called Gallo-cosmopolitanism as conditions for the creation and solution of the ethnological problem in theory and practice],(Paris 1842), 73-74. [Back]

[44]. Arbie Orenstein, Ravel: The Man and Musician (New York: 1975), 124. [Back] [Back]

[45]. Sydow, Korespondencja…, vol. 2, 191. [Back]

[46]. These quotations are all taken from Sydow, Korespondencja…, vol. 2. The page numbers of each are listed in order of appearance in the text: 83 (to A. Léo, 1843); 102 (to A. Franchomme, 1844); 110 (to A. Franchomme, 1844); 130 (to S. Witwicki, 1845); and 137 (to his family, regarding Princess Obreskov, 1845). [Back]

[47]. Kleiner, “Mesjanizm narodowy…”, 18-19. [Back]

[48]. Kleiner, “Mesjanizm narodowy…”, 10. [Back]

[49]. Kleiner, “Mesjanizm narodowy…”, 20. [Back]

[50]. Chantavoine, “L’italianisme de Chopin,” (1910), 14. [Back]

[51]. Sydow, Korespondencja…, vol. 2, 285. [Back]

[52]. See Kurt von Fischer, “Friedrich Schlegels ‘Lucinde’—Versuch einer musikasthetischen Deutung,” in Elżbieta Dziebowska, ed. Studia Musicologica, aesthetica, theretica, historica (Kraków: PWM, 1979), 181. [Back]

[53]. The fact that Chopin knew the entire poem can be proven by the four-measure piano introduction of the Melody. It is a quasi-quote of the instrumental introduction to the Chorus of the prisoners in the finale of the first act of Beethoven’s Fidelio. [Back]

Dr. Piotrowska, born in 1941, is a Polish musicologist, music theorist and philosopher (with an emphasis on aesthetics). At present, she is a lecturer at the Department of Musicology at the Academy of Catholic Theology in Warsaw. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapter as well as two books: Neoklasycyzm w muzyce XX wieku (Warsaw 1982), and “Tezy o możliwosci hermeneutyki muzycznej w świetle stu lat jej historii” (Warsaw 1990).