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Episode 11: Chopin's Catalogue Aria

Prelude in G Major, Op. 28 No. 3; Prelude in E-flat minor, Op. 28 No. 14; Prelude No 26 in A-flat Major

rs-cataloguearia-200The “Catalogue Aria,” a breathlessly sung rapid-fire list of humorous items, was a staple of 18th-century comic opera. Chopin never wrote an opera, but reading all of the likes and dislikes in his letters creates a “Catalogue Aria” all of its own.

Likes: Opera, melodies, Apartments with southern exposure, suede gloves, English cologne, ivory back scratchers with ebony wands - the expensive kind from the Galeries Royale. The paté from Strassbourg, carrots straight from the garden, after-dinner coffee at the Café Tortoni, a good cigar, and my friend Franz Liszt’s way of performing my Etudes…

Dislikes: My enemy Franz Liszt’s showy cadenzas, Beethoven, coughing fits, sweating, playing in public, Majorca, cigarette smoke, offensive odors, troublesome old maids, boredom, being alone, being with others, stagecoaches, Russians, open spaces, Scotland.

Likes: Polish peasant rye bread, Mazurkas, tailored suits, good soap, dove-colored wallpaper, violets, teaching, family, Poland...

…to his closest friend, Chopin summarized: “I live a difficult life in order to be useful to others in the end.” Chopin – a composer whose music everyone knows, but whose life we really don’t. —Sam Van Hallgren and Jennifer Foster

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Episode 11: Chopin's Catalogue Aria

Prelude in G Major, Op. 28 No. 3

Prelude in E-flat minor, Op. 28 No. 14

Prelude No. 26 in A-flat Major

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