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Episode 60: Chopin's Circle: Mixed Feelings and Moscheles

Trois Nouvelles Études, KK 905-17

rc-moscheles-200Fryderyk Chopin’s circle was not a mutual admiration society. Take the case of Ignaz Moscheles.

Pianist and composer Ignaz Moscheles managed to ingratiate himself with some of the major players in early 19th-century music. He was an early champion of Beethoven. Mendelssohn was a close friend. But his relationship with Chopin was a bit ambivalent.

Ignaz Moscheles was born in Prague, 16 years before Chopin. If Chopin was an early Romantic, you could call Moscheles a late Classicist. Chopin got to know Moscheles’ etudes as a student in Warsaw. Later, he heard Moscheles perform in London, and wrote admiringly about it. But on other occasions Chopin dismissed Moscheles, at one point calling his playing “frightfully baroque.”

Moscheles gave Chopin’s music similarly mixed reviews, finding it charming, but occasionally “mawkish.” He warmed to the younger man’s original style when he heard Chopin himself play for the first time—at a Parisian salon in Paris in 1839. He called the improvisation “simply bewitching.” But after Chopin’s death Moscheles again tempered his praise. Chopin was “not a Classic,” Moscheles wrote, but “he possessed utterly exceptional qualities: feeling, sensitivity and originality.”

Not long after their first meeting, Moscheles and Chopin had two memorable collaborations. They played together before the French royal family. And Chopin contributed a set of pieces to a book of piano studies Moscheles was putting together. They’re known as the “Three New Etudes”—restrained, refined and original. - Don Lee

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Radio Chopin Episode 60: Chopin's Circle Mixed Feeings and Moscheles

Nouvelle Étude No. 1, KK 905-17

Nouvelle Étude No. 2, KK 905-17

Nouvelle Étude No. 3, KK 905-17

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