Chopin's Music & Stories by Kayo

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Poland - love and grief

The record that officially starts the “Chopin's music & stories by Kayo” album series, devoted in its entirety to Fryderyk Chopin's music as interpreted by Kayo Nishimizu. It is a walk through the composer's works, from the artistically ethereal Mazurkas, reminiscent of Chopin's youth and adolescence, to compositions reflecting his love and longing for Homeland, which the composer could see only in his mind's eye.

Fryderyk Chopin:
Mazurka In C Major, op. 68, No. 1
Mazurka in A Minor, op. 68, No. 2
Mazurka In F Major, op. 68, No. 3
Scherzo In B Minor, op. 20
Etude In C Minor, op. 10, No. 12
Waltz In A Minor, op. 34, No. 2
Ballade In G Minor, op. 23
Polonaise In F-Sharp Minor, op. 44
Mazurka In F Minor, op. 68, No. 4

Fryderyk Chopin was born on 1 March 1810 in Żelazowa Wola. He was raised and educated in Warsaw, while the country of Poland was under foreign rule and the Polish people were longing to regain a sovereign homeland. The music included on this album reflects that strong emotional bond shared by Chopin as well.

The album starts with Mazurkas, Op. 68, No. 1, 2 and 3, which Chopin composed during his adolescence in Poland. They were inspired by traditional Polish folk melodies. Fryderyk was a sickly boy and he became familiar with them while convalescing in the countryside. These three Mazurkas feel like musical paintings of the landscapes he had seen at that time. Over a quarter of Chopin’s works comprises of the folk-inspired Mazurkas.

Having finished his education at the age of twenty, Chopin left Poland to seek success abroad. The news of the Cadet Revolution reached him shortly after he arrived in Vienna. Chopin spent the Christmas Day alone, praying at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, reflecting upon his family and friends in Poland. He was filled with grief and regret - he left those he had loved behind. Scherzo in B minor, Op. 20 reflects all these feelings and thoughts. Chopin weaved a theme from a popular Polish Christmas carol into the middle of this piece. The Revolutionary Étude also expresses the sadness and frustration he felt due to his inability to fight in the revolution, in which many of his loved ones took part.

The revolution and longing for homeland had a major impact on all of Chopin’s later works.

Vienna also felt different; it was not the same city he had visited as a debuting 19-year-old artist during his summer vacation. Poland’s struggle for a sovereign country was of little interest to the Austrian people, as Austria was one of the countries that took part in the Partitions of Poland. Chopin, being a patriot he was, felt isolated and humiliated in their company. Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2 differs from Chopin’s previous Waltzes. There is a distinct change of mood as opposed to the compositions reminiscent of the Viennese salons.

Ballade in G minor, Op. 23 was probably inspired by one of themost famous Polish poets of the Romantic period, Adam Mickiewicz. It was most likely composed during Chopin’s lonely years in Vienna. Polonaise in F-sharp minor, Op. 44 is a musical painting of the battles of the Cadet Revolution intertwined with images reminiscent of the peaceful landscapes of Poland. Chopin referred to it as a “a kind of fantasy in the form of a polonaise”.

Fryderyk Chopin died on 17 October 1849 in Paris. His dreams of returning to Poland were apparently not meant to come true. His latest work, Mazurka in F minor, Op. 68, No. 4, is a kind of a farewell ‘poem’, full of love and grief which encompass all of Chopin’s works.

August 2012

Kayo Nishimizu

 

Chopin's letters

Even as a child Fryderyk was eager to write letters. Up to this day we can watch a congratulatory scroll that he has prepared for his father’s name day and which is said to be the oldest of his letters. Handwriting, style and illustration do not clearly indicate such a young author; Chopin was only 6 years old at the time. He not only had a great gift for music, but he also had other artistic talents.



During his stays in the countryside, sickly Fryderyk sent letters to his parents. He chose a formula of a newspaper, which he named “Kurier Szafarski”, for his regular correspondence to Warsaw. Little Chopin’s newspaper was a parody of “Kurier Warszawski”. With a journalistic flair he wrote in a witty style about life in the countryside, animals and events important from his point of view.



Twenty-year-old Fryderyk’s departure from his homeland inclined him to conduct a lot of correspondence. Today we can read about seven hundred of his letters. Thanks to them we can get to know a real and alive person, which differs so much from Chopin, who with the very same thoughts wrote sophisticated and splendid music.

I would like to recall fragments of letters thanks to which you can clearly see Chopin’s grief that was with him while he was writing the music which is on this record.



After eight unhappy months in Vienna Chopin left for Paris, which unfolded new hopes before him. On his way he stopped in Stuttgart. Deeply moved by the news of the downfall of the November Uprising and the occupation of Warsaw by the Russians he wrote the so-called “Stuttgart diary”, excerpts of which I am quoting below.

 

  Original spelling retained (where possible).

Chopin's letters are a property of The Fryderyk Chopin Institute and are available here: http://en.chopin.nifc.pl/chopin/letters/search

English translation: Kuba Wysocki

 

 

Acknowledgements

Many thanks go to the sponsors:
- National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management
- Eko Cykl Organizacja Odzysku S.A.
- M&M Consulting

The record and the website were created thanks to the efforts and the commitment of many kind friends!

Special thanks go to:
-Kasia and Jarek Michniewski for all kinds of support. Kasia, I dedicate to you Mazurka in F major, Op. 68, No. 3, and to Jarek I dedicate Scherzo in B minor :)
- Anita Tarasiewicz for reviewing what I wrote in Polish
- Kuba Wysocki for translating the English texts and consultation on them
- Shinichi Miyahara for consultation on the Japanese texts
- Momoko Nakayama, Jillian DiGiacomo and Oskar Gowin for translating the English texts
- Maciek Hładki for the beautiful photos
- Łukasz Olejarczyk for his composure and calm attitude
- Marcin Piechowski for the wonderful timbre
- Karolina Herra for her concern
- Piotr Bałdyga for the original project
- Wojtek Jakubowski for the solid work on my website
- My Japanese friends for patience and support
- My beloved Husband and Children for their patience and forbearance
… I would also like to thank anyone that I forgot to mention here …

 

 
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