By Request

Jonathan Bellman

On this palindromic date we begin the news semester, which promises to be an eventful and pressure-filled one for me (trip to Poland, concerto, etc.).  Friend Lisa requests that I put the cover of my Chopin book up and announce its appearance.  So here it is:


 And yes, the book has appeared (at the end of September, actually).  Seems like ancient history!  Friends tell me they like it; reviews will take much longer to appear (if they do), meanwhile I’m working on/getting worked on by other projects, needing to practice (as always), etc.  So this particular child is off in the world on its own, and I wish it great success, but no longer have any control over it have to psychologically let go, to a certain extent.  Now, my life will be about exoticism and Beethoven and Chopin’s relationship to programmatic piano fantasies by minor composers and my classes and…

Up and at ’em!

About jonathanbellman

Professor of Music History and Literature and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Author, *The _Style Hongrois_ in the Music of Western Europe* (Northeastern University Press, 1993), *A Short Guide to Writing About Music* (2e, Longman, 2008), *Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom* (Oxford University Press, 2010), Editor, *The Exotic in Western Music* (Northeastern University Press, 1998), author of bunches of articles and reviews and so on. Likes to play the piano, the mandolin, and even guitar sometimes. A. M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar at UNC, 2011.
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9 Responses to By Request

  1. Lisa Hirsch says:

    It’s beautiful, and now I will go and order it!

  2. jonathan says:

    Make sure you know the piece–all six-plus minutes of it, and the First Ballade (less than nine) for good measure–really REALLY well before you start the book. It will make a lot more sense.

  3. Ralph Locke says:

    I’m reading it as time permits–really shouldn’t be, at this point in the semester, but don’t find I can set it aside for very long.
    I’d like to add that part of what is wonderful about the book is the wonderful, thought-provoking discussions of major issues, such as:
    –What did it mean in the early 19th c. for a piece to end in a different key than it began in? or
    –What can we learn from the many now-forgotten programmatic pieces for piano? (For example, the wildly popular The Battle of Prague, which Arthur Loesser’s book first informed the scholarly and pianistic world about, half a century ago, but JB explores more thoughtfully.)
    I’m already recommending this book to students interested in other nineteenth-century composers and repertories.

  4. jonathan says:

    I’ll be talking more about those programmatic pieces in Warsaw in a few weeks. May try to publish some. That is another *really* seriously underinvestigated genre. You know, a favorite article of mine urges that we familiarize ourselves with the amateur and consumer repertories contemporary with the historical artworks we study. It’s called “Nineteenth-Century Music: Quantity, Quality, Qualities.” *Nineteenth-Century Music Review*, 2004 . . . now, who wrote it again? Ah, yes: one Ralph P. Locke!

  5. eba says:

    Dr Bellman, can you offer a recommendation on an artist (or artists) or version(s) of tihs piece that you particularly like for us non professionals to absorb before reading?

  6. jonathan says:

    I know of no interpretation that pleases me completely, but the older I get the less things sound the way I want them to sound in my head. Why not go with Ballade No. 2 Op. 38, played by Krystian Zimerman, available on iTunes? I don’t like the way he treated the audience in LA, as I wrote in April 2009, but, I love his playing.

  7. eba says:

    Check. Order placed. Listening commencing.

  8. jonathan says:

    For the record: chapter three deals with the FIRST Ballade, and so it would help to know that one as well (sorry I forgot to say that). An unsolicited comment here: Chopin’s four Ballades are as good as anything he ever wrote, which is saying a great deal–I put them at the very pinnacle of his art.

  9. Paul says:

    Not palindromic in Aust, where the date is given as 11/01/10.
    I agree with your assessment of the ballades. I try not to listen to them too often in case I spoil them for myself.

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