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Episode 143: Completing Chopin

Allegretto & Mazur; Allegretto in F-sharp Major; Largo in E-flat Major

rc-completing-200“If these harmonizations are really and truly the work of Chopin – which is most likely – they constitute a new and weighty document which bears witness in its purest state to the composer’s attachment to Polish folk song”

Swiss musicologist Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger makes that claim about the “Allegretto & Mazur,” only the latest of a string of compositions by Chopin to emerge. And despite the fact that he died in 1849, no one is willing to say that Chopin’s “complete” works in fact represent his complete musical output. Not that anyone is expecting to unearth a Great Lost Chopin symphony, mind you, but manuscripts, notes, and even random Chopin scribblings are still coming to light. The Allegretto & Mazur, for example, surfaced from a private collection in 1974…and wasn’t recorded until 1992.

Greek pianist Cyprian Katsaris was the first – and so far ONLY pianist to record it, and a handful of other recently-discovered Chopin manuscripts. They’ve all required dedication, detective work, and a little bit of luck by musicologists to become part of the Chopin Canon. The authentically-Chopinesque “Allegretto in F-sharp” was originally part of 19th-century pastiche called “Souvenirs of Poland.”

There’s also a Largo in E-flat, although Chopin never called it that. All of 24 bars long, it sat in the French National Library until it was published in 1938…nearly a century after it was written.

Then there’s the Chopin Manuscript: Not a real piece of music, but a serial mystery-novel dreamed up by Jeffrey Deaver:

“Former war crimes investigator Harold Middleton possesses a previously-unknown score by Fryderyk Chopin. As he races from Poland to America to uncover the mystery of the manuscript, Middleton will be accused of murder, pursued by federal agents, and targeted by assassins.”

On second thought, we’ll save THAT manuscript for another episode! - Benjamin K. Roe

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Radio Chopin Episode 143: Completing Chopin

Allegretto & Mazur

Allegretto in F-sharp Major

Largo in E-flat Major

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