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The main challenge facing a composer of a relatively long and complex work is that of continuity. A short piece may be built from a single phrase, or a few phrases arrangedin a simple pattern (such as Chopin's favorite, and infinitely varied, ABA). In a longer work, however, the question arises: When the end of a phrase has been reached, what comes next? Change by itself is easy to achieve: it is enough to string one phrase after another. The difficulties begin when one wants not just one-phraseafter-another but a continuous discourse, a "configuration"(to use Paul Ricoeur's term) in which "one-after-the-other" becomes "one because-of-the-other," a whole rather than a heap-that is, when the form of the work is "narrative"as opposed to "lyric." In a separateessay, I have explained why one
19th-Century Music XX/1 (Summer 1996). ? by The Regents of the University of California. 46
might want to understand narrative and lyric as the two most fundamental forms of composition.' In a narrative (or temporal) form, parts succeed one another in a determined order,and their succession is governed by the relationships of causing and resulting by necessity or probability. On the other hand, in a lyrical (atemporal) form, the parts, whether existing simultaneously or succeeding one another, are governed by the relationship of the necessary or probablemutual implication. Thus, in creating a narrative work, one must not only give each phrase a function within the whole, but also establish, for instance, that the later phrases are in some way caused or preparedby something that happened earlier (although not nec-
'See my "Narrativeand Lyric:FundamentalPoetic Forms of Composition," in Musical Humanism and Its Legacy: Essays in Honor of Claude V. Palisca, ed. N. K. Bakerand B. R. Hanning (Stuyvesant,N.Y., 1992),pp. 451-70.
essarily in the immediately preceding phrase). The relationships of causing and resulting are the main means of achieving narrative continuity. In identifying the main problem of any large, complex, narrative form with continuity and its solution with probabilistic causality, one need not see either issue as being faced only by the composer. The listener and the performer face the same problem and have the same means of solving it at their disposal. Once they assume that they are dealing with a single work, performers and listeners must attempt to determine (by continuously proposing, trying out, and revising hypotheses, in the process of playing or listening) how the whole is divided into parts and what function each part has in making up the whole.2 And once they assume that the work is narrative, they must then look for the relationships of causing and resulting among the parts. Both the problem and its solution pertain to the structure of the work itself, as I shall demonstrate. Neither the composer's nor the performer'sand the listener's thought processes will matter here; rather what matter primarily are the constitution and significance of the world that the composer's work presents as an occasion for the performer's and listener's interpretations-the world that, after all, is always someone's interpretation (in this case, my own). But it would not be surprising if the young Chopin consciously shared the classicist ambition to create wholes rather than heaps, since this was clearly the tenor of the music education that he received in Warsaw. Indeed, at the beginning of his stay in Paris, he received a letter from his composition teacher, J6zef Elsner, writing from Warsaw on 27 November 1831, advising him that "the concept of the whole in the work is the mark of a true artist; a
craftsman puts one stone on another, places one beam on another."3 What follows, then, is an exercise in formalist close reading of, in this case, Chopin's First Ballade in G Minor, op. 23 (published in 1836). This is a silent imaginary performance, a reading that would be followed most profitablywith the score in hand. Elsewhere, in a companion essay, I have attempted to show how one might subject the results of such a reading to a further interpretation and might move beyond formalism, without sacrificing its insights and without falling into the familiar trap at the bottom of which waits, grinning, Hermann Kretzschmar.4 I I consider first the "punctuation form," the way the work is articulated into a hierarchy of parts by means of stronger and weaker cadences.5Form, after all, involves a relationship between the parts and the whole, and if the form is temporal, the parts succeed one another. In the last two centuries, musical form has been commonly thought of as produced by the manipulation of two factors,key and theme. The musical form, on this view, results from an interaction of a tonal plan consisting of a succession of stable and unstable tonal areas and a thematic plan consisting of an exposition, development, and recapitulation of themes. This view suppresses a much older, "rhetorical"conception (Dahlhaus'sterm),6still well remembered by theorists in the late eighteenth century, whereby a form results in the
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
necessary, not optional, assumption in "Diegesis and Mimesis: The Poetic Modes and the Matter of Artistic Presentation," Journalof Musicology 12 (1994), 407-33; and I have discussed the temporal nature of the process of musical interpretation in "Toward a History of Hearing: The Classic Concerto, A Sample Case," in Convention in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Music: Essays in Honor of LeonardG. Ratner, ed. W. J.Allanbrook,J.M. Levy, and W. P. Mahrt (Stuyvesant, N.Y., 1992),pp. 405-29.
21 have argued that the unity of the work is the reader's
3"Pojecie caXosciw dziele znamieniem jest prawdziwego artysty; rzemieslnik stawia kamief na kamief, belke na belke kladzie" (Fryderyk Chopin, Korespondencja, ed. EdwardSydow, vol. I [Warsaw, 1955], p. 198). BronisXaw (All translations in this article are mine unless otherwise indicated.) 4See my "Chopin's Ballade Op. 23 and the Revolution of the Intellectuals," in Chopin Studies 2, ed. John Rink and Jim Samson (Cambridge,1994),pp. 72-83. 5Foran introduction to the concept of "punctuationform" and for an explanation of the punctuation terminology used here, see my "The First-MovementPunctuation Form in Mozart's Piano Concertos," in Mozart's Piano Concertos: Text, Context, Interpretation,ed. N. Zaslaw (Ann Arbor, 1996),pp. 239-59. 6Carl Dahlhaus, "Das rhetorische Formbegriff H. Chr. Kochs und die Theorie der Sonatenform," Archiv fiir Musikwissenschaft 35 (1978), 155-77. 47
first place from "punctuation" (to speak with by means of cadences of varying strength. The cadential punctuation articulatesthe whole into successive parts and provides the framework within which the respective roles of other formal factors, of keys and themes, can be understood. By the 1830s, theorists lost much of the interest in cadences and punctuation that animated their predecessors from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Cadence was too conventional an object to attract much attention in an age that appreciated originality above all else and found it in the uniqueness of the thematic and harmonic invention and manipulation. But this lack of theoretical interest should not blind one to the continued importance of punctuation in the practice of a composer for whom the music of Bach and Mozart continued to be a living presence. The main musical discourse of the G-Minor Ballade, the Moderato (in 6; mm. 9-208),8 is framed on both sides, by the Largo9introduc7Heinrich Christoph Koch, Versuch einer Anleitung zur Composition, 3 vols. (Leipzig,1782-93). 8Throughoutthis article, I measure a section from its first melodic downbeat, no matter how long the precedingupbeat, to its last melodic downbeat, even when the first melodic downbeat of the next section is simultaneous with this last downbeat (i.e., even when the two phrases are "elided"),or when the upbeat of the next section follows immediately in the same measure (and the two phrases are "linked"). 9Largois the indication in Chopin's autograph(formerly in the collection of GregorPiatigorski,Los Angeles) and in the French first edition (Paris, 1836), which was certainly preparedon the basis of this autographand probablyproofreadby the composer. In the Germanfirst edition (Leipzig, 1836), the indication is Lento. Of the two principal modern editors of the Ballade, Ewald Zimmermann chooses the autographand the Schlesinger edition as the basis of his text, implicitly rejecting the readings of the Breitkopf and Hartel edition as inauthentic (see the "Kritischer Bericht" accompanying Frederic Chopin, Balladen, ed. Ewald Zimmermann [Munich, 1976], p. 3), whereas Jan Ekier argues for the authenticity of the German first edition, claiming that it was "basedon correctedproofs of F [the Frenchfirst edition] on which Chopin made a number of additionalchanges"("CriticalNotes" to Frederic Chopin, Balladen, ed. Jan Ekier [Vienna, 1986], p. xxi; for detailed arguments on which this conclusion is based, see the Komentarze ir6dXowe published with FryderykChopin, Ballady, Wydanie Narodowe A.1, ed. Jan Ekier [Cracow, 1970]). Ekier's claims for the authenticity of the German first edition do not convince. (Compare also Zofia Chechlifiska, "The National Edition of Chopin's Works," Chopin Studies 2 , 7-19.) He asserts, for instance, that a change of tempo indication was too majora revision 48
Koch),7 an articulation of the musical discourse
tion (in C; mm. 1-8) and the Presto con fuoco coda (in ?; mm. 209-64). The two parts of the frame could not be less balanced: at the beginning, a mere eight measures, without so much as a hint of cadence either internally or at the end, articulated only by brief rests, as if the speaker were short of breath or, better, still turning in his mind the subject of the about-tobe-opened story; at the end, fifty-six measures
to have been introduced by anyone other than the composer, but he himself refersto a number of Chopin's works where tempo indications differ between the French and German first editions, without being able to show that these differences can be attributed to Chopin. Similarly, he claims that the celebratedBreitkopfand Hartel reading of the left hand in m. 7, with dl instead of e6l, represents too important a revision to have been introduced without the composer's authorization,but since-as Ekier himself notes-the revision correctsthe parallel fifths between the right and left hands (mm. 6-7), it might well have been introducedby a pedantic house editor in Leipzig.By claiming that Breitkopfand Hartel based their text on corrected proofs of the Schlesinger edition, Ekier ignores the fact that a manuscript of the Ballade, whether the composer's autograph or a copy, was still in the possession of the Leipzig publishers in 1878 (see their letter to Chopin's sister, Izabela Barcifiska,dated Leipzig, 1 February1878, quoted and discussed in Krystyna Kobylafiska,Rekopisy Utwor6w Chopina:Katalog, vol. I [Cracow, 1977], p. 126; see also Kobylafiska, Frederic Chopin: Thematischbibliographisches Werkverzeichnis, ed. Ernst Herttrich, trans. Helmut Stolze [Munich, 1979], p. 46). Most likely, the German first edition was based on this manuscript and never proofreadby the composer. (See, however, n. 19 below.) This would be fully consistent with Chopin's normal publishing practices, as described by JeffreyKallberg ("Chopinin the Marketplace:Aspects of the International Music Publishing Industry in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century," Notes 39 [1982-83], 535-69, 795-824): "Throughouthis career,he would ordinarilygive an autograph manuscript to the French publisher for use in engravingthe edition.... In his middle years (roughly 183541), copyists were allowed to read over proofs, and at least some of the time, Chopin would check over these copyistcorrectedproofs before submitting them to the publisher. But duringthese years, Chopin did not entirely relinquish proof-reading... [p. 551]. Until mid-1835, Chopin's German editions were engravedfrom printed proofs originating in France.Fromlate 1835 through the remainderof his career, manuscripts were as a rule sent eastward. As in France,the years 1835 to 1841 saw copyists' manuscripts employed along with autographs.... Most of the manuscripts were reviewed by Chopin prior to being forwarded
to Leipzig . . . [pp. 808-09]. While the composer in his
early years and once or twice later sent proofs of his music to Germany to serve as engraver'scopy, no case is known where he corrected proof sheets engraved by one of his Germanpublishers. Once his music in whatever form ... left his hands for Leipzig,Vienna, or another Germanpublishing center, Chopin's ability to oversee the musical text ceased" (pp.815-16). An important additional consideration should be men-
of emphatic peroration, ending (in m. 250) with a cadence whose powers of closure are enhanced as much by the length of the dominant preceding the final tonic (mm. 246-49) as by the duration of the appendix prolonging the tonic (mm. 250-64), and articulated internally by three weaker cadences (mm. 212, 216, 224). In spite of (orrather because of) the introduction's hesitant and open character at the beginning, the design is insistently goal-oriented and closed at the end. This is a discourse in search of an aim. Once the aim is reached, it is repeatedly stressed. One could imagine a number of ways in which the "speaker" might have eased his way into the Moderato, but after the Presto absolutely nothing remains to be said. The Moderato itself preserves unmistakable traces of the sonata-allegro tradition. The regular first period (mm. 9-90), to speak in punctuation terms (or, in thematic terms, the exposition), consists of two balanced (antecedent-consequent) phrases (mm. 9-36 = 8 mm. + 20 mm.; and mm. 68-82 = 8 mm. + 7 mm.), the first
followed by three appendixes prolonging the
tioned here. As far as I know, none of the student exemplars of the Ballade that survive with the composer's autograph annotations corrects the introductory tempo indication or the left-handchordin m. 7 to conformwith the Breitkopfand Hartel readings. (See Kobylafska, Rekopisy, I, 127; idem, Werkverzeichnis,p. 46; Fr6dericChopin, (Euvrespour piano: facsimile de 1'exemplairede JaneW. Stirling,ed. JeanJacquesEigeldingerand Jean-MichelNectoux [Paris,1982]). Thus, in the unlikely case that these readingsstem from the composer himself, they would represent an ultimately rejected momentary hesitation on his part. Finally, an early autograph of the first fifteen or sixteen measures of the Ballade, known to exist in a private collection, is also markedLargo(Kobylafiska, Werkverzeichnis, "Erganzungen: Berichtigungen," Musikantiquariat Hans Schneider, BedeutendeMusikerautographen, CatalogNo. 241 [Tutzing, 1980],p. 16).In sum, while complete certaintyin this matter is unlikely (unless the manuscript mentioned in Breitkopf and Hartel's letter to Barcifiskacomes to light), it seems most plausible to conclude that the readingstransmittedin the German first edition are not authentic and that the authorizedtext is best representedby the Frenchfirst edition readin conjunction with the autographandwhatevercan be learnedfrom the annotations in the exemplarsthat belonged to the composer or his students. Needless to say, this conclusion in no way detracts from the interest that the BreitkopfandHartelreadingsmay hold forthe student of the performance and reception history of the work outside Franceand England.Heinrich Schenker'sargumentin favor of the Germanreadingof m. 7 is as telling as it is unconvincing. See Schenker,Der freie Satz (2ndedn. Vienna, 1956),p. 110 and fig. 64, ex. 2.
final cadential tonic of the phrase (mm. 36-44, 45-48, and 49-56) and the second by one such appendix (mm. 83-90). The two phrases are connected by a twelve-measure unpunctuated and uncadenced transition (mm. 56-67). As is the norm in Chopin's sonata practice, the abbreviatedlast period (the recapitulation)restates only the second half of the "expositional" first period, that is, only the second balanced phrase and its appendix (mm. 166-88 correspondingto mm. 68-90). But what happensin between these two broadperiods (mm. 91-166) and after them (mm. 189-208) defies any explanation in terms of the sonata-allegrotradition. For want of better terms, one might speak in a preliminary fashion of a complex two-part transition (mm. the 91-137) preparing central episode (mm. 138and another, simpler one-part transition 66) (mm. 189-208) preparing the coda. Now it is immediately apparentthat the latter transition (mm. 189-208) correspondsto (orrecapitulates) the first part of the former transition (mm. 91106) in its punctuation form as well as its harmonic and thematic content: the four measures of modulation ending with a hint of a half cadence (mm. 91-94) are recapitulated in six measures (mm. 189-94), and the twelve-measure appendix prolonging the cadential dominant (mm. 95-106) is recapitulated in twelve measures (mm. 195-206) and followed by a twomeasure appendix that resolves the dominant to the tonic (mm. 207-08).10Moreover, the central episode (mm. 138-66) resembles in its relative harmonic stability and especially in its
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
'?Given the very close correspondence of mm. 189-208 and 91-106, no analyst that I am aware of considers the latter section to be a part of the exposition, and Chopin's well-known practice of recapitulating normally only the second half of the exposition, it is puzzling that so many analysts of op. 23, including most recently even the usually admirablyperceptive Jim Samson, identify a mirroror symmetrical recapitulation (with the first theme recapitulated after the second one) in the work. Compare Jim Samson, Chopin: The Four Ballades (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 45-50. The most noteworthy analyses of the Ballade to appear after Samson's book are John Daverio, Nineteenth-Century Music and the German Romantic Ideology (New York, 1993), pp. 39-41, and Charles Rosen, The Romantic Generation (Cambridge,Mass., 1995), pp. 32328. Daverio talks of "an overridingpalindromic form" (p. 40). Rosen, on the other hand, considers both returns of theme A as "a ritornello" or "a refrain"(p. 327) and avoids any suggestion of a recapitulation. 49
punctuation form, although not in its thematic content, the coda (mm. 209-64): both consist of three short incises followed by a very large one (in the episode, three four-measure incises are followed by a seventeen-measure one; in the coda, two incises of four measures each are elided with one of nine measures, which is elided in turn with a twenty-seven-measure one, followed by a fifteen-measure appendix).(I shall show that the correspondences between the episode and the coda go further than that.) Thus only the second part of the first transition (mm. 106-37) seems to be left without a direct recapitulation or at least a correspondingsection in the last third of the piece. Since this is, however, a developed restatement of the second balanced phrase of the main period (mm. 106-26 = 8 mm. + 13 mm., corresponding to mm. 68-82 = 8 mm. + 7 mm.), this time ending with a half rather than full cadence (m. 126), with the final cadential dominant prolongedby the following appendix (mm. 126-37), even this music finds its corresponding counterpart, if not an exact restatement, at the beginning of the recapitulation (mm. 166-88). Figure 1 summarizes the punctuation form of the Ballade. (The recapitulating sections are linked with the sections they recapitulate by continuous vertical lines; sections corresponding in some other, weaker way are linked by interrupted lines; I and V mark sections ending with a full or half cadence, respectively; +1and +V in parentheses mark appendixes prolonging the final tonic or dominant of the preceding cadence, respectively; 1 indicates that the section is linked with the following one, e-that it is elided with the following one; Arabicnumerals count measures within a section.) Several points clearly emerge. First, the norm underlying Chopin's balanced phrases (that is, the antecedent-consequent phrases that present the two main themes) seems to be two eight-measure incises, but the norm is obeyed (established) in the first incise only to be departed from in the second. In the first (unrecapitulated) phrase (mm. 9-36), the generous expansion of the second incise to twenty measures may perhaps adumbrate the overall end-oriented shape of the work. Even if all parenthetical repetition (mm. 24-25 repeat mm. 22-23) as well as the parenthetical expansion of the penultimate
cadential dominant (mm. 32-35-the only measures that could be removed from the incise without a loss of motivic substance or grammatical integrity) were removed from the second incise, a sizable consequent of fourteen measureswould still remain. On the other hand, the behaviorof the second (recapitulated) phrase (mm. 68-82 and 166-80) is quite different. Here the slightly shorter consequent weakens the sense of closure and necessitates a continuation. (When the phrase is recapitulated/developed in mm. 106-26, the consequent is made longerto make room for a modulation.)Whereas the balanced phrases are conceived in terms of the eight-plus-eight norm, the episode and the coda suggest another underlying norm, an additive construction of four four-measure incises (I shall offer arguments for this reading later), with the norm observed only in the first two or three incises, and with an enormous expansion of the last incise. (Together with the consequent of the first phrase, these are by far the largest incises of the entire work.) Once again, the end-oriented shape of the whole is reflected in the structure of these two sections. This contributes to the sense of a discourse that constantly yearns for (and finally attains) an emphatic conclusion. Second, the handling of the cadences shows an abiding concern for continuity. To be sure, the discourse is marked by a number of cadence articulations, and all are additionally strengthened by one or more appendixes prolonging their final chords. Nevertheless, these cadences and appendixes (save, of course, the last one) are either linked or elided with the following music. This ensures that the sense of articulation is never very strong-never as emphatic, for instance, as the one commonly encountered at the end of the first period (exposition) of the Classical sonata-allegro. In addition to such obvious devices as the link and the elision, Chopin also uses subtler ways of smoothing over the joints between successive sections. The introduction, for example, is left without a cadence. The cadence that should have closed it comes at the first downbeat of the following phrase (m. 9), but because
this downbeat is preceded by an upbeat, this is not a normal case of elision (in which the last melodic downbeat of a preceding section and
95 (12e) (+Ve)
) (8e) 121 81 + 20e (5e + 51) (21
le (+ Il) (+11) (+Ie)
81+ 71 (41[411) 41 Il (+II)
81+13e (121) 41, 4 Ve (+Vl)
Intro. First period: phrase 1
Transition phrase 2 16 181
Transition: part 1 189
Epi part 2
209 41, Ie
81 + 71 (41) 61 Punctuation: Section: Il (+11) VI
Last period: phrase 2
Transition: part 1
Figure 1: The Punctuation form of Chopin's Ballade, op. 23.
the first of the following one coincide). Instead, the melody of the introduction is interrupted in midstream rather than concluded, and it is only covertly continued throughthe upbeat and first downbeat of the following phrase. One Similar cases of might call this a superelision.11 superelision occur at the ends of the only other two sections that lack cadences, the transition between the first and second phrase of the first period (mm. 56-67) and the episode (mm. 13866), parallel spots to the extent that both precede the same material, the second phrase of the period. In the former case, the cadence occurs in m. 69, that is, one measure after the new phrase had begun (on the last quarterof m. 67). Like the introduction, the transition is interrupted in midstream and only covertly continued as the new phrase begins with the same dyad the transition died out on. And similarly, the cadence that should have ended the episode is delayed until m. 167, that is, one measure after the beginning of the next phrase. The melodic link (the dyad) between the episode and the following phrase is lacking this time, but the harmonic bond between them is much stronger, since the cadence begins within the episode and is completed within the phrase: the cadential dominant is reached in m. 158 in the form of the six-four (Eb)chord, which is prolonged through the downbeat of m. 162 and resolved by way of the chromaticpassing chords in mm. 162-65 to the V (Bb) chord at the beginof the new phrase in m. 166. ning Here, as throughout the Ballade, Chopin's evident goal is to punctuate without stopping, to suggest points of articulation without impeding the drive toward the final destination. The composer's concern with such issues may be graphically illustrated by his subtle revision of the phrasing in mm. 54-57. In the autograph, mm. 54-55 (i.e., the last two measures of the final appendix to the first phrase) are placed under one slur, and mm. 56-57, the first two measures of the following transition, are placed
"The articulation between the introduction and the first period is further weakened by a subtle textural transition, as the monophony of the paralleloctaves in mm. 1-5 gives way to the first hint of the homophonic, melody-withaccompaniment, texture in mm. 6-7, thus preparingthe homophonic texture of the first period. 52
under another. In this way, Chopin originally marked a point of articulation between the appendix and the transition very clearly. In the French first edition, however, he decided to cover all four measures with a single slur, thus increasing the sense of continuity between the two sections. Third, full cadences are used to close the relatively stable sections that state or restate their material (the two balancedphrases of both periods and the coda), and half cadences close the relatively unstable sections, with the function of preparingthe appearanceof the following, more stable sections (the two phrases of transition). Here Chopin strictly observes the Classical usage. The central episode, however, is anomalous, since-as observed earlier-it promises to close with a full cadence but postpones its completion until after the beginning of the next phrase and ends on the V3 chord. This imaginative ending makes it at once a section of relative stability and transition. Fourth, the relative strength of a cadence depends primarily on the length of its dominant; observe where the strongest cadences occur and how they are handled. The dominants of longest duration are placed as follows: mm. 94-106 (thirteen measures), the appendix of the first part of the transition between the first period and the central episode through the first measure of the following phrase (another case of the superelision that always precedes the appearance of this material); mm. 126-37 (twelve measures), the appendix of the second part of the first transition; mm. 158-66 (nine measures), the already discussed cadence supereliding the episode with the last period; mm. 194-207 (fourteen measures), the two appendixes of the second transition; and mm. 238-49 (twelve measures), the final cadence of the work. It is clear that once the main thematic material has been presented, that is, immediately after the first period (exposition), the discourse consists essentially of one strong cadential statement after another. Although there are no seriously prolonged dominants through the end of the first period (the only dominant-prolongation,lasting four-and-a-half measures, occurs at the cadence of the first phrase, mm. 312-35), every phrase after the first period, with the sole exception of the
Measure: Theme/motif: Key: Punctuation: Section:
9 A i
(+I11 (+I1) (+Ie
83 68 B b I "vi"/VI II (+I1)
91 -> vl
95 (V) (+Ve)
106 "-3 ~"Vb
(V) I VI
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
Intro. First period: phrase 1
Transition phrase 2 166
Transition: part 1 189 195
Episode part 2 207
Measure: Theme/motif: Key:
Last period: Transition: part 1 phrase 2 Figure 2: The Harmonic and thematic plans of Chopin's Ballade, op. 23.
recapitulatory phrase of the last period, ends with a seriously prolonged dominant. But it is noteworthy that only one, the final, of these strong cadences is suited to conclude the discourse, since only it is simultaneously a full cadence and has a final tonic prolonged by an appendix. The impression, again, is of a discourse in search of a suitably strong conclusion, reached only after a number of less successful rehearsals.
In music analysis the "what" questions, although indispensable, are generally less interesting than the "why" questions. It is clear at this point what the punctuation form of the Ballade is, but not why the work has this form rather than another. To make the first step in this direction, I shall turn to the harmonic and melodic matter of the musical discourse. Figure 2 summarizes the harmonic and thematic plans of the work, mapping them against the already identified formal units. Upper-and lowercase Roman numerals stand for majorand minor keys respectively; an arrow marks a modulation;V in parenthesessignifies the dominant preparation of the following key; quotation marks around a Roman numeral indicate that the key in question has not been adequately prepared,that we are "on," but not "in" it, as Tovey would say; a key is crossed-out when it is preparedbut withheld. Capital letters iden-
tify major thematic ideas, lowercase letters, with or without Arabic numerals, identify minor motivic ideas that serve to individualize less important formal units, such as appendixes; quotation marks around a letter indicate that the theme in question is being developed, rather than stated. Through the end of the first period, the harmonic plan of the Ballade more or less meets sonata-allegro expectations, at least to the extent that it establishes the main key, modulates, and establishes the second key. Afterward, it goes its own way. To be sure, the further modulation one might expect does occur, but, instead of leading toward new harmonic regions, it circles back to the second key; and the retransition and reestablishing of the main key occur much later than they would in a sonata-allegro. Thus, the basic plan consists of two tonic areas of roughly similar dimensions at the beginning and end framing a much longer (more than twice as long as either of the two tonic regions) central submediant area, the latter in three parts: a tonally stable one correspondingto the second phrase of the first period; an unstable one corresponding to the transition; and another stable one corresponding to the episode and last period. In effect, two tonal recapitulations can be identified, one occurring before and one after the thematic recapitulation: the return of the submediant in m. 138 and of the tonic in
tively little tonal instability in the piece; the CENUTSCRY
m. 209. It is worth observing that there is rela-
principal areas of instability are confined to the transitions. Otherwise, the discourse is remarkably reluctant to modulate and proceeds in broad, stable tonal areas of either the tonic or submediant. Measured against the sonata-allegro expectations raised at the beginning, the most striking feature of this tonal plan is the postponement of the main key's return until the coda, that is, until well after the thematic recapitulation had been completed. This shift of the tonic's return from the point where it would coincide with the beginning of the thematic recapitulation to the beginning of the coda, lending so much more dramato the point of return, confirms and reinforces our sense of the work's general shape as imbalanced and end-oriented. A few harmonic details deserve additional comment. First, the dominant preparation,the essential harmonic content of the introduction, emerges only gradually out of the opening HII6 (Neapolitan sixth) chord;its first elements show up only in m. 3, which emphasizes c3 and f#2, the two indispensable pitches of the V7 chord, itself fully spelled out only after the introduction is over in m. 8. This beginning is harmonically as strikingly reluctant as the ending will The specific harmony be strikingly emphatic.12 Ab, which dominates the first three measures and out of which the dominant emerges, may hint at the importance the pitch A; will have in the tonal plan of the whole, as it is the only step of the submediant key missing from the tonic G minor. Second, Chopin's already noted reluctance to modulate is nowhere more evident than in the transition between the two key areas of the first period. He not only follows the first phrase with three appendixes, thus postponing the moment when the tonic key will have to be abandoned, but also continues to hesitate even
'2Moreover,it is reluctant not only harmonically but also texturally, with the gradualemergence of homophony out of monophony, and rhythmically, with measured rhythmic differentiation of values emerging only graduallyout of the initial lack of metric definition and rhythmic differentiation; on every level, mm. 6-7 furnish the crucial mediating step. 54
after the transition gets underway in m. 56. Strictly speaking, there is no real modulation here, in the sense of an adequate preparationof the following key-only a chromatic sliding down of the bass from GG in m. 56 through GGbin m. 62 to FF in m. 63, all of which is executed with such vacillation that until the downbeat of m. 63 the music could still slide back easily to g minor. As a result, when the new key, Ebmajor, appearsin m. 68, it is quite unprepared,and even the cadence in m. 69 is not sufficient to stabilize it. In fact, the tonal instability of the second phrase is initially so great that it is not even clear whether El or BL will be its key: the hint of a cadence in Ebat the end of the first incise in m. 69 is immediately followed by another hint of a cadence in Bl at the end of the second incise in m. 71. For a strongcadential confirmation of the second key, one must wait until the end of the second phrase in m. 82. Like the whole Ballade, the second phrase moves from an ambiguous, hesitant beginning to a clearly defined goal at the end. The remarkable reluctance with which the main key is abandoned and the second one reached contrasts strongly with the normal Classical practice of an energetic drive toward the second key (although the concealing of a hint of what this second key might be in the first measures of the work does have Classical precedents). The relative lack of a forwardharmonic drive is compensated for, at least in part, by the seamlessness of the transition from the main to the second key area and, again, this is in contrast with the normal Classical practice of placing a strong point of 'articulationbefore the second phrase. Needless to say, Chopin's mastery of the mechanics of modulation cannot be in doubt. Rather, his aesthetic goals are different from those of his Classical masters. At every step one discovers that he aims not for the Classical balance and symmetry of clearly articulatedformal units but for an overall shape that projects, from an unassuming and reluctant beginning, a sense of a relatively seamless, gradual accumulation of energy and acceleration toward the inevitable, frantic conclusion. Third, the longest section of tonal instability in the Ballade, the transition between the first period and the episode, represents a movement within the second key, rather than away
from it. The new key, BUb enharmonically notated as A (I shall offer my reasons for this interpretation later), is adequately preparedby the dominant-function six-four appendix in mm. 94-105 (strictly speaking, its parallel minor, bb, is prepared), but the confirming B6lmajor cadence is reached only in m. 107, after the beginning of the next phrase on V7 of the new key in m. 106 (the already discussed superelision); because toward the end (from m. 118 on) the new phrase initiates a move back to Eband ends with a half cadence in that key (or rather its parallel minor), the key of B6lis never confirmed by a full cadence coinciding with either the beginning or end of the phrase. The daring diminished-fifth relationship between El and B6 is certainly noteworthy, defining as it does the high point of harmonic instability in the work. Chopin, who loved to flatten the fifth degree of a chord, here transfers his predilection from the level of chordal structure to that of key structure. The thematic plan of the Ballade, like the harmonic one, follows the sonata-allegromodel through the end of the first period, to the extent at least that it presents two thematic ideas in two different keys, and alludes to them once more in the last period, where the second theme is recapitulated, although, against all sonata precedents, in the second rather than the main key. This lack of correlation between the thematic and harmonic recapitulations and the introduction of two new thematic ideas, C and D after the first-period exposition, constitute the two most striking features of the thematic plan as measured against the sonata-allegroexpectations raised at the beginning. The two features are related to this extent: that the second theme is recapitulated in the subsidiary rather than main key necessitates the continuation of the discourse beyond the end of the last period so that the main key can return in the coda. The introduction of a new theme at the point where the tonic key returns gives this point additional emphasis and importance and confirms our fundamental reading of the overall shape of the work as focused on the final goal. Like theme D, theme C itself articulates and emphasizes the arrival of the tonal recapitulation: it has been noted above that the Ballade contains two such points of tonal re-
turn, first to the submediant in m. 138 and second to the tonic in m. 209. This and because C and D are the two new themes introduced after the first-period exposition further strengthen the correspondencebetween the episode and the coda alreadynoted on the basis of punctuation alone. In fact,.the correspondence goes even deeper: both themes have a similar motivic construction. The four incises of both themes, C and D (see fig. 1), are filled with motivic content that could be labeled mmnn'that is, in terms of the motivic content, the second incise repeats the first, while the fourth wants to repeat the third, but, unable to contain its energy, bursts its limits as if losing selfcontrol in a giddy rush to the cadence. Thus the episode takes on the appearance of a rehearsal for the coda, and the whole sequence of events from m. 166 on can be read as a rectification of the sequence of events from m. 68 to m. 165, as if the search for a proper conclusion-the essential content of the work-did not get it right the first time and had to be repeated and corrected on second try.13
'3Needless to say, the similarity of the overall thematic plan, a-b-b1 (mm. 1-67, 68-165, and 166-264 respectively), to the form of the medieval ballade is fortuitous. In choosing a name for the genre his op. 23 was to inaugurate, Chopin was certainly inspired by the tremendous European vogue for the poetic ballad among the Romantics, and in particularby that virtual manifesto of Polish literaryRomanticism,AdamMickiewicz's collection of Ballady i Romanse (Ballads and Romances) of 1822. There is no good reason to distrust Robert Schumann's testimony in this matter: "He spoke then [when he met Schumann in Leipzig on 12-13 September 1836] also of the fact that he got inspiration for his ballads from some poems of Mickiewicz" (Er sprach damals auch davon, dag er zu seinen Balladen durch einige Gedichte von Mickiewicz angeregt worden sei.) (Schumann, Gesammelte Schriften iiber Musik und Musiker, vol. II, ed. M. Kreisig [5th edn. Leipzig,1914],p. 32). See, however, ChristianeEngelbrecht, "Zur Vorgeschichte der Chopinschen Klavierballade,"in The Book of the First International Musicological Congress Devoted to the Worksof FrederickChopin, Warszawa 16th-22nd February1960, ed. Zofia Lissa (Warsaw,1963), pp. 519-21; Gunther Wagner,Die Klavierballade um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Berliner Musikwissenschaftliche Arbeiten 9 (Munich-Salzburg, 1976), pp. 42-48; and Anselm Gerhard, "Ballade und Drama: Frederic Chopins Ballade opus 38 und die franzosische Oper um 1830," Archiv fir Musikwissenschaft 48 (1991), 110-25. See also James Parakilas,Ballads Without Words:Chopin and the Tradition of the Instrumental Ballade (Portland, Or., 1992), pp. 26-27. For the date of Chopin's meeting with Schumann, see Schumann's letter to Heinrich Dorn in Riga, written in Leipzig on 14 September 1836: "Eben 55
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
I have commented above on the relative lack of tonal instability in the Ballade. Similar and closely related to it is the scarcity of genuine thematic development in the piece-and the little there is is confined to the two transitions, just as the areas of harmonic instability were. Even many of the passages signaled by quotation marks in fig. 2 as developmental do not quite live up to the Classical image of thematic working: mm. 91-94 and 189-94 merely continue to use the motif of the preceding appendix to shift the key up by thirds; in mm. 10626 the second theme is not so much developed as restated with a modulatory change at the end (thus, one might speak of a development only after m. 117) and with its charactertransformed from the original sotto voce pianissimo to the chordally reinforcedfortissimo; and mm. 250-64 do not so much develop as make references to previously heard ideas. Even mm. 95106 and 195-206, which are as close to genuine development as the Ballade ever gets, begin with restatements of the main theme and only later lapse into a brief and rudimentary thematic working. But in these two passages, at least, one cannot really speak of a thematic restatement (as in mm. 106-26), since too little of the original theme is repeated and both the expressive character and the function of the material is transformed, reversed in fact, from a thematic statement to a preparation for an upcoming one (mainly through harmonic means, as the whole passage is based on the dominant-function six-fourpedal).Forthe most part, then, the work seems to state and restate its ideas rather than developing them. The relative lack of development of the second theme in mm. 106-26 and that this is the only subject to be recapitulated give theme B the character
claim that Chopin consciously invokes the model of the poetic strophic ballad with refrain would probablybe an over-interpretation.Still, the idea should not be hastily rejected: it is plausible to claim, after all, that Chopin's next Ballade would explore this very model.15 III This relative lack of tonal instability and especially of thematic development might easily give a superficial observer the impression of a work more "lyrical" than "narrative"in its basic character,in which the temporal ordering of the events and the logic governing their succession matter far less than the dimensions of the work would lead one to expect. But nothing could be further from the truth. Motivic development is all-pervasive in the Ballade. It extends from the first to the last measure and does not have to be confined to the ghetto of the (nonexistent) development section. But this development is conceived in terms different from those of the Classical masters, in terms more akin to the Brahmsian developing variation than to Beethovenian thematic working. To be more precise: neither "development" nor "variation"accurately describes Chopin's technique. These terms imply a distinction between a model (motif, theme) and its elaboration (development, variation),between something original and primary, and something derived and secondary. But distinctions of this sort are irrelevant to the technique found in Chopin's Ballade. It is evident that its thematic and motivic statements are interrelated, but they are not derived from one another: they are all equally original, or-what amounts to the same thing-equally derivedfrom a single, extremely concentrated motivic source.
ballad] its decisively lyrical character."14) To
of a recurringrefrain. (Goethe observed in 1821 that "the refrain, the recurrence of the same closing sound, gives this genre of poetry [the
als ich vorgestern Ihren Brief erhalte und antworten will, wer tritt herein? Chopin! Das war grosse Freude. Einen schonen Tag lebten wir, den ich gestern noch nachfeierte" (quotedfrom Chopin, Korespondencja, 420). See also the I, 12 September 1836 entry in Schumann's personal diary, quoted in Jean-JacquesEigeldinger, Chopin: Pianist and Teacher as Seen by His Pupils, ed. Roy Howat, trans. Naomi Shohet with Krysia Osostowicz and Roy Howat (Cambridge, 1986), p. 268. Concerning Chopin's visit to Leipzig and meeting with Schumann, see in particular Gastone Belotti, F. Chopin l'uomo, 3 vols. (Milan and Rome, 1974), pp. 571-74. 56
'4"Der Refrain, das Wiederkehren ebendesselben Schlufklanges, gibt dieser Dichtart den entschiedenen lyrischen Charakter" (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Ballade, Betrachtungund Auslegung," Werke,Hamburger Ausgabe,vol. I [Munich, 1981],p. 400). '5SeeGerhard,"Balladeund Drama,"pp. 110-25.
The narrative continuity in the Ballade is established mainly by a tight network of motivic interrelationships. Some of these lie at the surface and are easily noticed. The ascending arpeggio that opens the main motif of the first theme, A (m. 8), echoes the ascending arpeggio that opened the introduction, a (mm. 1-3). The motif of the first appendix that follows the main theme, al, again opens with an ascending arpeggio (m. 36). In all three cases, the ascent is followed by a stepwise descent. The same contour of an at least partly arpeggiated ascent followed by a stepwise descent reappears in the motif of the appendix to the second theme, b (mm. 82-83). Thus, when the contour reappears in the appendix of the coda (mm. 253-54 and 257-58), a backward glance is cast simultaneously at theme A and at motives a, al, and b-that is, a final reference is made to the most overt motivic link of the whole discourse. Since appendixes a2 and a3 have no genuinely melodic content, consisting instead of an increasingly nervous and agitated sempre piu mosso figuration that gives way to the (again!) arpeggiated chords of the transition, and given that x, y, and z are melodically even more neutral, of the melodically significant ideas of the Ballade, only themes B, C, and D are free of references to the just-identified motivic contour. Another, equally overt, motivic interrelationship links theme C with the first appendix of the main theme, al: compare the left-hand motif in m. 138 with the one in m. 36. A much less obvious link, but still close to the surface, relates the theme to the introduction: compare the right hand in m. 138 with m. 3. Thus, on the surface at least, only themes B and D appear to be without significant links to other ideas in the piece. Although these overt motivic links, however, do play a role in establishing connections between individual ideas of the discourse, I believe the motivic interrelationships and derivations one discovers beneath the surface are far more significant. The narrative continuity in the Ballade mainly relies on those. The metaphor of what is on or beneath the surface stands here for the distinction between an overt melodic shape and its underlying structure that can be revealed when this overt shape is reduced to its most fundamental pitches. By be-
ginning to reduce the individual melodic phases of the Ballade in this way, one discovers a narrative thread of astonishing logic running through the whole discourse, astonishing certainly to this writer and, judging by the published literature, probablyalso to other Chopin critics.
m. 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
L. A; .
Example 1: Chopin, Ballade, op. 23, mm. 1-9, reduction. A reduction of the introduction (ex. 1) reveals that its underlying melodic motif is formed by the c2 and b6l (mm. 6-7), with the structural c2 preparedfrom the beginning by the initial opening-up of the tonal space from c (or even C) to c3 (mm. 1-3) and the following stepwise descent to c2 (mm. 3-6), and with the further descent down to the tonic prime, gl, completed, as already seen, only at the beginning of the following phrase (mm. 8-9). The motif is the Classical musical emblem of a sigh, and it encapsulates the expressive world of the following discourse.'6 A middle-voice counterpoint in mm. 7-8 reproducesthe motif a sixth lower as ebl-dl.17Structurally, the most striking feature of the introduction is its emphasis on C as the melodic beginning, striking because the fourth scale degree (4), not being a member of the tonic triad, is an unexpected choice for the beginning of the melody from the standpoint of Classical tonal practice. It is surely worth noting that on the surface (mm. 6-7) the accented melodic beginning, c2 (4), is directly related to gl (1) before resolving to bbl in a gesture that echoes the first descent from c3 to bb2via g2 in m. 3: the introduction encapsulates what matters in a most economical fashion. Both the sigh motif and its specific ini-
'6InFrederickNiecks's words, op. 23 is "full of sighs, sobs, groans, and passionate ebullitions" (FrederickChopin as a Man and a Musician, vol. II [London, 1888; rpt. Neptune City, N.J., n.d.], p. 268). More recently, Anatoly Leikin claims that the sigh gesture in op. 23 evokes the seventeenth-century operatic genre of the lamento. Compare Anatoly Leikin, The Dissolution of Sonata Structure in Romantic Piano Music (1820-1850) (Ph.D. diss., University of California,Los Angeles, 1986), p. 242. between the top and the middle voices in mm. 7-8 as he is with the overt ones in mm. 6-7; see n. 9 above. 57
is with fifths '7Chopin as unconcerned the hiddenparallel
b r- Ir rr I I
r , rj r- rk J#,_r
- r J# ' -10-- r r b r-r1 \-It
_ 1- 7
Example 2: Ballade, mm. 9-36, reduction.
m. A .n g in g 36 I _ 37 _ 38 40 41 42 44
Example 3: Ballade, mm. 36-44, reduction. tial pitch will have profound repercussions in what
A reduction of theme A (ex. 2) reveals the hidden polyphonic nature of its melody. The main structural melody (markedby ascending stems in ex. 2) is constructed mostly of the dyadic sigh motif encountered in the introduction (mostly, because on two occasions the motif's direction is inverted to ascend and at the end the dyads are abandonedin favor of a longer linear descent). The antecedent (mm. 9-16) as a whole can be reduced to a single sigh, 5-4, but the consequent (mm. 17-36) goes back to 5 and completes the stepwise descent all the way to 1. This melody is accompanied by a counterpoint (descending stems in the example)composed wholly of thirds descendingby step. It is most striking that the theme is constructed of the same motif governing the introduction. (Note, by the way, how the sigh motif reappearstwice on the surface in the left-hand accompaniment at the cadence, m. 35.) The fourth scale degreegives way to the fifth one as the opening melodic tone, but does not disappear from view completely, interrupting the structural melodic descent at the end of the antecedent. It reappearsalso, on par with the fifth degree, as a significant surface detail, when in mm. 21-23 (and again in mm. 24-25) the g2_gl octave is divided by d2 and c2. Even more on the surface (so much that it does not appearat all in my reduction), but certainly no less significant, is the insistent droningof the accented cls (righthand,
8In his well-known analysis of the Ballade, Hugo Leichtentritt also derivesthe whole work from a single motivic source,but he locates this sourcein m. 5. See hunderts, 13-16. On the otherhand,Leikincorrectly pp. in identifiesthe sigh motifas beingof pivotalimportance
op. 23. See Leikin, The Dissolution of Sonata Structure,p. Wagner, Die Klavierballade um die Mitte des 19. Jahr-
in II (Berlin,1921),p. 2. Leichtentritt's claim is disputed
vol. Leichtentritt,Analyse von Chopin'schenKlavierwerke,
mm. 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, and 20). A new feature (with consequences in the future) is provided by the stepwise descending thirds of the counterpoint. Every significant interpreter of Chopin's music knows to what extent the composer's surface homophony covers multivoiced textures. If the melody of theme A was characterizedby hidden polyphony, that of the following appendix, al, might be dubbed heterophonic: the right-hand melody is reduced to its structurally most important pitches, rhythmically displaced, and doubled an octave lower in the left hand. A reduction of the melody (ex. 3) shows that it is, again, constructed wholly of the descending-dyad sigh motif. A new feature, and worth remembering for its future repercussions, is that both halves of the appendix begin on f2, again a striking choice for a starting point of a melody, since 7 is not a member of the tonic triad. It has alreadybeen mentioned that in the following two appendixes, a2 and a3, true melody has given way to an increasingly nervous figuration. But this too can be reduced to its structurally most important pitches. The two two-measure incises of a2 (see fig. 1) differ (apartfrom being sounded in different octaves) only in that the first ends with the fifth scale degree in the bass, whereas the second ends with the conclusive prime, which ensures that the repetition is not heard as redundant. Melodically, both incises consist essentially of two tetrachords descending by step, one from C to G and the other from F to C (see the reduction of mm. 44-45 in ex. 4), which condenses and summarizes the pitch relationships observed before, namely, the emphasis on 4 in its relation to 1 (as earlier in the introduction, mm. 3 and 6-7) and the emphasis on 7, which is now revealedas related to 4 (i.e., as the 4 of 4, a sort of 4 to the second power). The following appendix,a3, begins with the figure reduced in ex. 5, repeating it four times, in different octaves, in mm. 48-52. Then it continues as in ex. 6,
repeating the pattern initiated in m. 54 four times in
Example 4: Ballade, mm. 44-45, reduction.
m. 48 8 . . 49 . -. ..............................
Example 5: Ballade, mm. 48-49, reduction. mm. 54-55, so that by the end of the appendix the melodic cl remains unresolved, its importance underscored by the bass, which summarizes the central pitch relationship of the discourse so far by alternatingrepeatedlyc and G (againrelated directly, with economy equal to that of the introduction). Thus the inconclusive appendix flows directly into the following modulating arpeggiation. The reduction reveals again the exclusive reliance on the sigh motif and, moreover, a return of the motif to the pitch level at which it was initially introduced in mm. 6-7. The pitch C dominates the whole appendix and is as important at the end of m. 55 as it was at the beginning of m. 1. As the motion to the second key and theme begins, the sigh motif and the 4 that wants, but does not quite manage, to exploit it to descend to 3 are firmly established as the main melodic protagonists of the discourse.
52 'o w-__ ,
6 in g
Example 6: Ballade, mm. 52-54, reduction. The only motivically significant element of the transition,x, is providedby the empty vertical fourths and fifths in the left hand (mm. 56-57, 60-61, and 64-67), which in their recollection of horns, the romantic emblem of sylvan nature, help to achieve the calando-smorzando-ritenutotransition from the agitated figurationof the appendixesto the meno mosso and sotto voce second theme. It is striking that, once the key of G minor has finally been abandoned,the horn calls use exclusively cl and the Fs above and below (mm. 64-67). Thus the cl in mm. 64-67 picks up the cl abandoned,unresolved at the end of m. 55, and this in turn is picked up, together with the accompanying fl, in m. 67 by the right hand as it
begins the second theme. The key may have changed, but the melodic pitch on which the continuity of the whole so centrally depends, C, together with its tributaryF, remains as firmly in charge as ever. The second theme, B (reduced in ex. 7), is, like the first one, polyphonic-consisting again of a structural melody (in ex. 7, upward stems plus a few embellishing unstemmed note heads) and a lower counterpoint. This textural similarity by itself establishes a link between themes B and A. But there are also other, more specifically motivic links with the preceding music, as well as links of pitch. The antecedent and consequent are almost identical melodically, consisting essentially of two sighs, one on fl, the other on c2, and a descent from 5 to 1, articulated into individual sighs in the antecedent, linear (despite the missing 4) in the consequent. (Inview of this near identity, what necessitates the consequent, what makes it nonredundant, is, of course, that in the antecedent 1 is reachedon a weak beat and is not supported by the El-tonic chord, both weaknesses being corrected in the consequent.) Moreover, in theme A the consequent had consisted of a few sighs followed by a linear descent from 5 to 1, and the antecedent had stated the first and last sigh motives at the same pitch level. In both themes, A and B, the melodic high point in the consequent gets additional emphasis by being prolongedan octave apart in two registers (cf. mm. 21-25 and 79-80). More important, the ubiquitous sigh appearingat several scale degrees is again the main motivic component of the melody (on a most fundamental level, both the antecedent and consequent of B are large-scale sighs, as was the antecedent of A). And the pitches singled out for attention, in addition to the expected bb2and eb2(5 and 1 in the local key), happen to be their upper neighbors, c2 and fl, the two crucially important pitches mentioned above. Note the extent to which they are singled out for attention on the surface:the vertical dyad, fl-cl, itself coming, as seen, directly from the horn calls of the precedingtransition, opens both the antecedent and the consequent, stressed with an accent in the former and an arpeggioin the The counterpoint that accompanies the first latter.19
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
in but 19The is autograph not in arpeggio present Chopin's and firsteditions,in which Chopin's the French German a for natural, mistake signhas beenmistaken a redundant missedin reading the composer Schlesinger's proofs.This situation,by the way, might lend some credenceto Jan basedtheir text Ekier's claim that the Leipzig publishers edition (see n. 9 on corrected proofsof the Schlesinger On above). the otherhand,it is alsopossiblethatwhoever for and copiedChopin'sautograph Breitkopf Hartelmisread the composer's notation in the same way as did. Schlesinger's engraver
I (4X, LJ I1
Example 7: Ballade, mm. 68-82, reduction. halves of both the antecedent and consequent is againrelatedto the one that accompaniedthe melody of the first theme, consisting of thirds filled linearly, this time, however, ascending rather than descending. In short, whereas theme B could not be related to the remaining thematic and motivic material of the Ballade while remaining on the melodic surface,20this reduction has revealed such a wealth of textural, motivic, and even pitch-centeredlinks with theme A and other music preceding theme B that nothing central to the new theme now appearsto be completely new.
music include a subtle echo of a gesture from the second theme, when the appendix is repeated and the strong-beat bls in mm. 87 and 88 resonate an octave higher,in a recall of the transferof the melody to the higher register, from bbl to bb2(mm. 71 and 79). And finally, note the inner-voice counterpoint in mm. 85-86 echoing the initial thirds, d2-c2-bbl, in the minor mode, d 1l-c 1-bb.This is the first time that the c2-bl motif, followed since the introduction, gets inflected to cbl-b6 (and note that Chopin marks these two pitches, not the initial dbl, with accents). The significance of this inflection will become apparentlater. Thus, by the end of the first period the main features on which the work's narrative continuity depends are in place. The individual phases of discourse are connected by economical and rigorous links of motives and pitches. Everything of melodic significance is constructed from a single motif of extreme simplicity and expressive-emblematic resonance: the descending step, with the descending (or ascending) linear thirds playing a secondary, accompanying role. Equally significant is the emphasis on a single pitch, C, and secondarily on F, as the threads connecting distinct and often distant phases of discourse, threads maintained even through a change of the local key. (Chopin may have chosen these rather than other pitches because they are the only two diatonic scale degrees shared by G minor and Eb major that are not members of the tonic triads in these keys; consequently, they provide particularly unstable, dynamic, forward-pressing melodic elements. They thus contribute to the overall shape of the piece, which moves from an ill-defined, uncertain beginning to an emphatically stable and final closure.) The transition from E; major in m. 90 to V of A minor in m. 94 proceeded by shifting the bass upward by thirds, from Eb(El major, m. 90), through G (G minor, m. 91) and Bb(Bbmajor, m. 92), to d (D
Example 8: Ballade, mm. 83-90, reduction. The appendix of the second theme, b (reducedin ex. 8), is also entirely derived from the main theme or, to be exact, from its counterpoint. Like the counterpoint of A, it consists entirely of thirds descending by step. In addition, it is constituted by one such third, which, moreover, is sounded at the same pitch level as most of those in theme A (although this time, of course, with an abl, since the key has changed).That the structuralline descends now only to 3 rather than to 1 diminishes the sense of closure and thereby increases the continuity. In this respect, the appendix of the second theme behaves as paradoxically as those of the first theme, which also introduced increasing restlessness instead of confirming the stability of the theme's cadence. Further features linking the appendix with the preceding
AlanRawsthome's observation: "This however, 20Compare, secondtheme is a kind of complement the first,a reto statementin the majormode and in a moreconsolatory mood of the earlierutterancein G minor.Both consist basicallyof the dominantthirteenthresolvingupon the fromthe mediantto tonic, andboth proceed melodically in the key-note"("Ballades, Fantasyand Scherzos," The
Chopin Companion: Profiles of the Man and the Musician, ed. Alan Walker[New York, 1973],p. 47).
105 " -i
, L I4, ,-
I1jj jjIjjgJiJ J JX;iI 2B
KAROL BERGER Chopin's
Example 9: Ballade, mm. 95-106, reduction.
m. 106 107 108 109110 111 112 113 114 115 116 ----- ------117118 120122123 124 125 126
. .. A...
Example 10: Ballade, mm. 106-26, reduction.
Example 11: Ballade, mm. 126-37, reduction.
minor, m. 93). The correspondingshift in the structurally most important melodic pitch is from gl in m. 90, through d2 in m. 91 (thus recapturing the melodic point of departureof the first theme), to e~ in m. 94, a motion by step again, but moving upward this time, the first suggestion after the inverted sighs of the main theme that upwardmotion may come to play an important role in the melodic structuring of the work. By the beginning of the following appendix (m. 95), the e is transferredto the appropriately high register, e2 (see the reduction in ex. 9). As the reduction shows, the whole dominant preparation that follows (mm. 95-106) adopts the melody-withcounterpoint texture of the main theme, just as it adopts its motivic substance, but freely mixes descending with ascending steps (thus exploiting the inverted sigh motif observed in the precedingtransition) and creates from this mixture the first significant ascending structural melodic line of the work: e2-f#2-g#2-a2-b2.21 is perhaps not accidental that (It the beginning of this line involves the same pitches as the only ascending dyad in the main theme: el-f#1
21Adorno heard a quotation of this passage in the second movement of Mahler's Fifth Symphony (mm. 137-41), "in a moment of breathless tension" (indeed, a very close, although probably fortuitous, resemblance). Theodor W. Adoro, Mahler:Eine musikalische Physiognomik,Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 13 (Frankfurtam Main, 1971), pp. 224-25.
in mm. 11-12 and 19-20. It should be increasingly clear that Chopin likes to impart significance to specific pitches and to maintain their identity through changes of underlying keys.)
The b2 just reached (m. 106) becomes the melodic
point of departureof the following phrase (melody reduced in ex. 10). Until the middle of the consequent, this essentially reproducesthe original theme
B "on" a new key (cf. ex. 10 with ex. 7). But the
second half of the consequent (afterm. 117), instead
of descending from 5 to 1, introduces a second ascending line similar to the one in the preceding appendix: e3-f#3-g#3-a#3-b3/c6l. Only now, when the B, which began the melody of the phrase, has been reached again and enharmonically respelled, does another descending dyad appear, contracted this time
to a semitone, cbl-bb.Thus, the melody of the whole phrase can be reduced to the same large-scale sigh, The appendix that follows (reducedin ex. 11) Cb-Bb. serves then to prolong the melodic Bbreached in m. 126 over the dominant harmony preparingthe following key, embellishing this Bb prominently with its upper neighbor Cb. (It is because of these Cbs that
the preparedkey is ELminor through m. 134. Only in mm. 135-36 is ct3 prominently introduced as a component of the d3-c3-bb2motif in the left hand, so that the preparedkey changes into EL major.) It is apparentto what extent the melodic content of the introduction and of the first period was dominated by one pitch, C, and the dyad descending from 61
it, C-BK.The melodic events just traced, the events of the transition between the first period and the
episode, can be interpreted as a contraction of this B[.22 The principal stages of this process are the
descending whole tone, C-B6, into a semitone, CK-
establishment of b2 as the main melodic pitch in m. 106 (an event whose importance is emphasized on the surface by the highest dynamic level reached so far,ff, and by b2 opening the repetition of theme B in its expressively transformedcharacter),the reconfirmation of b3 in m. 124 (again underscored on the surface by the furtherdynamic intensification to the climactic ff), the enharmonic respelling of the pitch to c 1 in m. 125, and its resolution to b6in m. 126.23 The correspondence between the C-B' motif of the introduction and the first periodand the Cb-Bb motif of the transition is underscoredfurther on the surface by the striking similarity of texture and register between the first four measures of the appendix y with their oscillation between bband cbl (mm. 12629) and the last two measures of appendix a3 with their oscillation between bband cl (mm. 54-55). As mentioned earlier,the scherzando24 episode in E; major (mm. 138-66) consists of three harmonically very stable four-measureincises followed by a much longer and much less stable final incise, which reaches a cadential six-four in m. 158, prolongs this harmony, and then resolves it by way of chromatic passing chords in mm. 162-65 to V3, at the beginning of the next phrase in m. 166. The first incise (mm. 138-41) offers another instance of Chopin's characteristic "heterophonic" texture in which the melody is presented simultaneously, although with considerablerhythmic displacements and variations, in two different octaves. Here the melody in the left hand (ex. 12) reveals, once again, exclusive reliance on dyads descending (or ascending)by step, with the whole melody reducible to our Ur-motif of C-Bb. The melody in the right hand (ex. 13) is a variant of the one in the left, to the extent that it also is reducible to the C-Bl sigh. (A noteworthy surface detail: 22Recall first suggestion the that c1 mightbe inflectedto of b cbdin the inner-voice counterpoint appendix (mm.85 and89;see ex. 8) andnote the accentswith whichChopin marksthese ckls,but not the preceding as well as the d6ls, in fact that the secondtime around, m. 90, he does not as place an accent on bN, he did in m. 86, wantingthe unresolved to lingerin the memory a preparation for as cb1 the firstbeatof m. 106.Symmetrically, left-hand the counin terpointd3-c3-bb2 mm. 134-36 (see ex. 11)announces
that the Ur-motif will be shortly reinflected back to C-Bk. 2It was this sequence eventsthatmotivated earlier of my suggestion that the key of mm. 106-17 was "really" BM major,enharmonically notated to facilitate reading. 24Somarked in the autograph,although not in the French first edition.
Example 12: Ballade, mm. 138-41, left hand, reduction.
m. ^ I138 e- 139
Example 13: Ballade, mm. 138-41, right hand, reduction.
A I !I L 1
.Q I in E;
Example 14: Ballade, mm. 146-50, reduction.
g2 always intervenes between c3 and bh2, just as it
did in the introduction in mm. 3 and 6-7.) The second incise (mm. 142-45) is a close variation, almost a repetition, of the first, with the left hand giving up its melodic role in the last measure,25while the melody in the right hand continues its descent chromatically to gl in m. 146. The third incise (mm. 14649) gives up the heterophony altogether and works instead with the chromatic-scale idea introduced in the last measure of the preceding one (m. 145). Its melody (reducedin ex. 14)essentially prolongsthe gl to m. 150 by means of a chromatic motion up to and down from-what else?-c2. And the last incise (mm. 150-66) works initially with chromatic dyads, ascending and descending (see the notes emphasized in the right hand in mm. 150-53), in reference to the preceding chromatic scales, producing essentially a
chromatic ascent from e6l (m. 150) to c#2 (m. 154).
The remaining part of the incise (mm. 154-66) operates with motivically neutral scales and arpeggios, with no genuinely melodic content, and with the main "line" transferred the bass. The line reverses to the direction of the chromatic-scale motion to procadential six-four is reached on the downbeat of m.
158, the BBl in the bass is approached from Cl in a duce the descent from C# (m. 154), through BB# = C (m. 156) and Cb (m. 157), to BBl (m. 158). Thus as the
motion recalling the contracted form of the Ur-mo25At some time between the autograph and the French scending steps would extend to dl; without it, an ebl is
firstedition,Chopinsharpened interruption deletthe by ing a chordin m. 145:with the chord,the chain of dedeletedandthe chainstopsat f1.
Ballade, op. 23
Example 15: Ballade, mm. 166-80, reduction.
m. 195 199 200 202 205 206 207 208
0c 6~~ 6~~
Example 16: Ballade, mm. 195-208, reduction. tif that is recognizable from the transition and that might have been thought overcome in the episode. The following prolongation of the bass BB6through the bass motion from BBl (m. 158), through cl (m. (m. 162)and Cb(m. 165), back to BBb 166) manages to combine both forms of the motif, C-Bl and Cb-Bl,in a grand summarizing gesture as the episode gives way to the last period. In fact, the whole episode, from m. 138 to m. 166, can be seen as a gigantic prolongationof the pitch B1,prominentlyembellished with both C and CK. The appearance of theme B in mm. 166-80 (ex. 15) is in pitch content an almost literal recapitulation of mm. 68-82 (cf. with ex. 7). Two subtle variants, however, should be noticed. First, the omission of the first melodic note from the antecedent (i.e., the missing fi in m. 166) is clearly designed to its focus all of the attention on the bass BBM; crucial motivic significance has just been discussed. Second, the counterpoint accompanying the main melody has been revised in orderto stress, instead of the thirds ascending by step, the more typical thirds and dyads descending by step. In the recapitulation of the following appendix b (mm. 181-88; compare with the reduction of the correspondingpassage in ex. 8), the original dl -ck -bb counterpoint is not is completed (bN missing in both m. 184 and m. 188). This not only returns to the contracted form of the Ur-motif, but, paradoxically,places emphasis on the missing bb,as if to say that the descent from Bbto E; in the preceding phrase did not manage to challenge Bbspreeminence. The retransition from Eb major back to V of G minor (mm. 189-94) is again not a true modulation, but only a simple shift from the Eb-major triad (mm. 188-89) to the G-minor triad (mm. 190-92), which accompanies the transference of the main melodic
pitch fromgl (m. 188)tobbl (m. 189)tod2(m. 190). By
established as the point of departure the structural for of the following two appendixes (d2 in m. melody 195), but is also shifted to the bass register, where it providesa dominant pedal point for the appendixes (d and D, mm. 194-207, with DD addedin the last two measures). Moreover, the melodic reduction of the appendixes(ex. 16)shows that even when the tonic of G minor is reached in m. 208, d2 (i.e., 5) remains the melodic pitch, which, of course, is one of the main reasons why the music has to continue, even though the tonic has been regained. It will be the tonal function of the coda both to confirm the tonic and to reach the melodic 1 in a convincing way. The coda, like the episode, consists of four incises whose motivic content might be represented as mmnnl, with the final incise getting out of control and exploding the eight-measure framework established in the preceding one (strictly speaking, it had consisted of nine measures with elision; see fig. 1). The first and second incises (mm. 209-12 and 213-16; ex. 17) prolong d2, embellishing it with the upper-neighborsighs, and then descend, again by way of sighs, to bb1. The third incise (mm. 216-24; ex. 18) continues the stepwise descent all the way to gl. Significantly, this is reached not through the diatonic A, but through the chromatic A--surely a backwardreference to the prominent Abs in the introduction.26I have already interpreted this prominence as a way of preparingthe second key of the work. Retrospectively, another layer can be addedto this interpretation: the flattened 2 descending to 1 makes a clear reference to the contracted semitone form of the Ur-motif, which played such an important role in the central phase of the discourse. In
the end of the retransition phrase, this d2 is not only
26Rawsthorne believesthat the Neapolitan also harmony in the passage in beginning m. 216 mayechothe introduction ("Ballades, and Fantasy Scherzos," 48). p. 63
211 215 I I
212 216 I
Example 17: Ballade, mm. 208-16, reduction.
m. A I 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224
Example 18: Ballade, mm. 216-24, reduction.
m. 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231232 233 234 235 236 8 237 238 239 240 244 245 246 248 250
Example 19: Ballade, mm. 224-50, reduction. descent addition this overallstructural to sigh-motif fromAbto G, the incise brimsoverwith significant, details. It consists first of a twicecharacteristic
repeated A6-G sigh motif (mm. 216-19) and then of a stepwise octave descent from g2 to gl through two perfect fourths, from fl to c1 (mm. 220-21) and from c2 to gl (mm. 222-24), a descent that emphasizes the two pitches that played such an important role before, fl and, in particular,cl/c2, and that manages to articulate once more (in m. 222) the c2-bbl motif. The last incise (mm. 224-50; ex. 19) begins like the previous one, with twice repeated sigh
to g2 by way of sighs (mm. 234-35, repeated an octave higher in mm. 236-37). The structural melodic motion in the background,however, is
upward, from c3 (m. 234) to d2 (m. 235) and hence to d3 (m. 237) and d4 (m. 238); this last
pitch is reached simultaneously with the increase in the dynamic level to ff and with the arrival of the cadential dominant-function sixfour chord. As the cadential harmonies move
from the six-four chord (m. 238) to V7 (m. 246) to i (m. 250), the melodic d4 is moved to the
motif Al-G (mm. 224-27). It continues, also similarly to the precedingone, with a tetrachord descending from fl to cl (mm. 228-30). The chromatic passing-notec#1,introducedthis time
into the descent, gives the final cl a new em-
register three octaves lower (dl in m. 239), and then the ascent from C continues through e1
(m. 240) and f#l (m. 248), both embellished by
the sigh-motif upper neighbors, to the final GG
(m. 250). In other words, whereas the third incise ended with the tetrachord descending
phasis, and this becomes the springboardfor the remaining portion of the fourth incise; which diverges from the third one. Instead of the descent from c2 to gl in mm. 222-24, there is now a prolongation of C through three octaves, from cl to c3 (mm. 230-34). Thus, this
crucial pitch and scale degree is once more explicitly emphasized. But what happens next is the most dramatic and climactic reversal in
from 4 to 1 and thus completed the descent already promised in mm. 6-7 of the Ballade, the last incise gives renewed prominence to the 4, with which the work began and which reverberatedthrough so much of the discourse. It then "catastrophically" and heroically reverses the direction of the structural melody so that the final line of the work is the climactic ascent from 4 to 1. Note that this ascent does
not come unprepared; on the contrary, it has
the Ballade-a true "catastrophe"in the Aristotelian sense of the term. On the surface appears the awaited tetrachordal descent from c3 64
significant precedents. Even on the surface, the motivic shapes (intervallic and rhythmic) in
Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe
_-_ _ _
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
Example 20: Beethoven, Piano Sonata in AS,op. 26, Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe, mm. 1-4. mm. 242-50 recall those of two earlier passages, the parallel points of dominant preparation based on the first theme in mm. 101-06 and 201-06, the only traditionally developmental ones in the work. Beneath the surface, the structural melodic ascent D-E-F#-G (= 5-#6#7-8) in mm. 238-50 (see ex. 19) recalls the (= 5-#6-#7-8/1-2) in mm.^99-106 (seeex. 9) and D-E-F#-G-A-B9(=5-#6-#7-8/1-2-3) in mm. 195206 (see ex. 16). But while the earlier two ascents overshot their targets, the last finally gets it right and stops at the tonic's prime, thus realizing for the first time the closure previously implied. The basic function of the concluding appendix (mm. 250-64) is to reinforce this sense of harmonic and melodic closure by prolonging the final tonic. The appendix does this primarily by covering much of the tonal space with two ascending, G melodic-minor scales (mm. 250-52 and 254-56) and then with a descending chromatic one (mm. 258-62; combined with the left hand's contrary-motion chromatic ascent in mm. 258-59), the concluding gestures of tonal saturation that look backward to the opening-up of the tonal space in the initial three measures of the Ballade.27In purely formal terms, it would be difficult to imagine a stronger, more emphatic closure. But the import of these final fifteen measures is not purely formal. Amid the clamor of the f-fff scales, two hushed moments of three piano ritenuto drum strokes each (mm. 252-53 and 256-57) bring to mind, subtly but insistently, a funeral march
27Andif one glances beyond the closed context of this composition, the gestures look also forward to the final, "cadential" measures of Schoenberg's Erwartung. See Rosen, Arnold Schoenberg(New York, 1975), pp. 57-59.
ones in the preceding passages: E-F#-G#-A-B
heard from a distance.28The allusion may be even more specific than that. The dottedrhythm upbeat-to-downbeat form of the motif is identical to that opening the slow movements in Beethoven's Piano Sonata in AS, op. 26 (1800-01), the Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe (this was the Beethoven sonata that seems to have been most often played and taught by Chopin;29ex. 20), and in his Symphony in Eb(Eroica),op. 55 (1803), the Marcia funebre (ex. 21), the two most famous, early nineteenth-century funeral marches celebrating the death of a revolutionary hero. The ending of the Ballade, no matter how emphatic and conclusive, is not triumphant, joyous, or ecstatic, but catastrophic, heroic, and tragic. The narrative ends successfully in the sense that it reaches its appointed goal, but, as in the biography of a revolutionary, the achievement of the conclusion requires a heroic effort and is paid for with the protagonist's death. The most overt motivic referencein the final appendix is, of course, the twice-repeated evocation of the opening of the main theme (itself an idea with several motivic cross-references in the work) in mm. 253-54 and 257-58. The first of these presents for the last time the Urmotif sigh of cl-bb with which the Ballade had opened in mm. 6-7 (see ex. 1 again). The second raises the motif a third to eb2-d2,reproducing the middle-voice counterpoint that accompanied the first presentation of the Ur-motif in mm. 7-8. Thus, in the final measures of the
28An allusion to an unspecified funeral march in these low-register chords is identified by Igor Belza in Fryderyk F. Chopin (2nd edn. Warsaw, 1980), p. 184; and by Leikin, The Dissolution of Sonata Structure,p. 256. 29Seethe references to the work in Eigeldinger, Chopin: Pianist and Teacher. 65
I i 9,
V v p4 P
I. IIin C I
Timp. sotto voce
Vn. II PP Via.
18 X bba
k A _ i _92 | _ _ i
b%~P -V PP
Example 21: Beethoven, Symphony in Eb(Eroica),op. 55, Marcia funebre, mm. 1-2. Ballade, its main motivic idea reappears successively at the pitch levels at which it had originally appeared(almost) simultaneously. on a single pitch, C, which maintains its identity even through the changes of underlying keys and which, as the opening pitch of the Urmotif C-Bl, generates the expectation of the structural melodic descent from the fourth to the first scale degree of the main key. The expectation is repeatedly frustrated, and the work concludes instead with a climactic, catastrophic-heroic reversal of the structural melody's direction, that is, with an ascent from 4 to 1 in mm. 230-50.
A summary is now in order. The narrative continuity in the G-MinorBallade dependsprimarily on two factors: (1) the threads provided by a single sigh motif, which generates with astonishing economy the essential motivic substance of the work; (2) the obsessive focusing
These essential threads of narrativecontinuity would remain undiscovered without reaching below the surface and reducing the melody phrase by phrase. Reduction of this sort does not have to go very deep (to go deeper might prove counterproductive): when analyzing the music of composers not known for a taste for ciphers and puzzles, one should remain close to what is aurally perceivable. All that is required is to strip the surface of the most obvious embellishments and distinguish individual melodic lines and counterpoints that may be hidden in the ostensibly homophonic texture. In a characteristically perceptive "dialectical" observation designed to answer the obtuse accusation that Chopin's was merely "salon music," Carl Dahlhaus argued that the term "salon music" is thoroughly appropriate,provided the authentic spirit of the philosophical and literary salon is not misconstrued:
This spirit was marked by essays and dialogues in a conversational tone, not by disquisitions and learned treatises. We need only take the Classical sonata literally as a thematic disquisition, a meditation in notes, to understand why the sonata principle and salon music were mutually exclusive. . . . Salon music's conversational tone in no way implied that the composer had studiously to avoid saying anything substantial lest he be accused of pedantry.30 Writing of the G-Minor Ballade, Dahlhaus sub-
out forcing Chopin to abandonhis light-handed aristocraticsprezzaturafor academic gravitas.32 Thus the composer's individual answer to the general problem of continuity raised by any narrativeform, an answer given from the standpoint of the aesthetics of the salon, involved the invention of a new kind of "developmental" technique33and its deployment in a new kind of genre, arguablythe first artistically significant result in a series of nineteenth-century attempts to provide a viable alternative to the Schumann's reportindicates Classical sonata.34 the importance Chopin himself attached to his op. 23 in what he told Schumann about the work during their meeting of 12 September 1836: "I also told him that this was my favorite among all [his works]. After a long thoughtful rest, he said with great emphasis: 'I like this, it And no wonder: at the is also my favorite'."35 time, it was undoubtedly Chopin's most ambitious, original, and successful large-scale commondanite is exceedingly well documented in 32Chopin's his correspondence.Less well known, but equally characteristic, is his ironic attitude toward academic manners he had a chance to observe during a scientific congress in Berlin in September 1828. The three extant letters from Berlin to his family in Warsaw are pepperedwith quickly drawn, biting anecdotes and caricatures. See Chopin, Korespondencja,I, 81-85. 33Note Jim Samson's related observation that in the Sonata in B Minor, op. 58, thematic links are not only a means of unifying thematic contrasts but also a contribution to "a process of continuous development and transformation within the bar-by-bar progression of the movement, an unbroken thread spun of related ideas." Samson writes further of "the subtle, minutely detailed motivic, which ensure conharmonic andrhythmic cross-references tinuity of thought" (The Music of Chopin [London, 1985], p. 133). 34Emile Bosquet,J6zefChomifiski, and JimSamson are fundamentally correct to see in Chopin's Ballades predecessors and pianistic equivalents of Liszt's symphonic poems. Emile Bosquet, "Chopinprecurseurle poeme pianistique," Annales Chopin 3 (1958), 63-67; J6zef M. Chomifiski, FryderykChopin, trans. Bolko Schweinitz (Leipzig, 1980), p. 100; Samson, The Music of Chopin, p. 175. 35"Auchsagte ich es ihm, dass es mir das Liebste unter allen sei. Nach einer langen Pause Nachdenken sagte er mit grossem Nachdruck:'Das ist mir lieb, auch mir ist es mein Liebstes"' (Robert Schumann's letter to Heinrich Dorn in Riga, Leipzig, 14 September 1836, quoted in Chopin, Korespondencja, I, 420). Compare the entry in Schumann's personal diary, Leipzig, 12 September 1836: "Inthe morning, Chopin ... 'His Ballade I like best of all.' I am very glad of that; I am very glad of that" (quotedfrom Eigeldinger,Chopin: Pianist and Teacher, p. 268). On the question of whether Schumann's words refer to op. 23 or op. 38, see Belotti, F. Chopin l'uomo, pp. 571-74. 67
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
sequently observed: "If sophistication and idiosyncrasy are hidden beneath the seemingly straightforwardsurface of this work, the genuine spirit of the salon demands not only that the music harbor an element of artifice but that this element be kept concealed. (Eversince the Renaissance, the aesthetic motto of aristocratic music culture was nascondere l'arte: art must be concealed.)"31In reaching below the melodic surface of the Ballade, one is able to uncover the threads of continuity that provide the discourse with a musical logic equal in its rigor to that of a sonata, without displaying this logic directly through the techniques of thematic and motivic development, and with30Dahlhaus,Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson (Berkeleyand Los Angeles, 1989), p. 148. 3'Ibid.,p. 149.
position, his answer to those compatriots who, like Mickiewicz, urged the composer to undertake a largerwork and not to waste his creative powers on miniatures.36 But while the novelty and the far-reaching implications of both the technique and the genre are undeniable, neither the technique nor the genre is completely without precedent. As Schumann remarked: "The word 'ballad' was transferred to music first by Chopin. By the way, only the word seems new to us, one can find the matter already in Beethoven and I Schubert."37 have already noted the exact extent and limits of the debt that the form of Chopin's op. 23 owes to the Classical sonataallegro. The developmental technique of the work also has its roots in sonata practice, specifically in Beethoven's principle of "contrasting derivation" of a later theme from an earlier one,38 but was deployed by Chopin with unusual rigor, so that, instead of supplementing the Classical techniques of thematic and motivic development, it could replace them. The general formal shape of the Ballade, with its intense orientation toward the ending, may also owe something to the example of the triumphantly emphatic Beethovenian codas, although Chopin characteristically replaced the sense of triumph with one of tragedy.39 Of all the great composers of his remarkable generation, Chopin has always seemed the least touched and least awed by what so many of his contemporaries experienced as the simultaneously liberating and paralyzing example of
36SeeNiecks, FrederickChopin as a Man and a Musician, I, pp. 276-78. 37"Das Wort 'Ballade'trugwohl zuerst Chopin in die Musik iiber. Ubrigens scheint uns nur das Wort neu, die Sache kann man schon in Beethoven und Schubert finden" (Schumann, Gesammelte Schriften,II,343). 38Inhis discussion of the Ballade, Dahlhaus (NineteenthCentury Music, p. 148) notes the derivationof what I have labeled in fig. 2 as b from the opening of A, and he relates this to Beethoven's "contrastingderivation"principle. 39Inan 1836 review, Schumann observed:"A genuine musical structure will always have a certain focal point toward which everything gravitates, on which all the imaginative strands converge. Many composers place it in the middle (as Mozart does), others toward the close (like Beethoven)"(quotedfrom Reinhold Brinkmann,Late Idyll: The Second Symphony of Johannes Brahms, trans. Peter Palmer [Cambridge,Mass., 1995],p. 203). 68
Beethoven.40 Chopin himself extolled Bach and Mozart above all other predecessors, and his best-known remark concerning Beethoven (made to Eugene Delacroix on 7 April 1849), to the effect that Mozart never turned his back on the eternal principles of counterpoint, as Beethoven occasionally did, is characteristic of his classicist convictions (only classicists believe that artistic principles can be ever eternal).41But, while there is no reason to doubt the composer's sincerity, the affinity between the technique uncovered here that provides the Ballade with continuity and Beethoven's principle of "contrasting derivation" suggests that Chopin may have paid closer attention to Beethoven's sonatas than has hitherto been suspected. Indeed the G-Minor Ballade seems to show several further traces of such attention, traces that go beyond the affinity of technique. One of these has alreadybeen mentioned: the allusion to the Marcia funebre sulla morte d'un Eroe in the concluding appendix. In addition, I hear in the Ballade traces of a preoccupation with the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2, of 1802. First and foremost, Chopin's introductory Largois reminiscent of the Largosections in Beethoven's opening theme (mm. 1-2 and 7-8 in ex. 22): both arpeggiate a major triad in first inversion, and both provide a somewhat tentative, hesitant beginning to a tempestuous composition. Chopin links the introduction and the main theme by not completing the former until the latter had already begun; Beethoven makes the beginning of the main theme sound like an introduction. The similarity is even stronger when Beethoven's theme is recapitulated (mm. 143-58 in ex. 23), and the arpeggiated chords evolve into instrumental recitatives, the way the opening chord does in Chopin's introduction (and the similarities extend here even to
individual recitative gestures: compare
Rosen's view: "Perhapsonly Chopin, coming 40Compare from a provincialmusical culture, succeeded in being completely free from its [the prestige of Beethoven] spell" (The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven [New York, 1972],p. 379). Delacroix, Journal,vol. I, ed. Andre Joubin(Paris, 41Eugene 1932),p. 284; trans. WalterPach (New York, 1961), p. 195.
Adagio, _ I
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
< 4; *l"n 1
r-rr#^ f HT
cres* c es . P
Example 22: Beethoven, Piano Sonata in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2, Largo-Allegro, mm. 1-22.
con espressione e semplice
? r :. ;
rcon espressionee semplice
Example 23: Beethoven, Piano Sonata in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2, Largo-Allegro, mm. 137-58.
( , -
i 3: b m~rr^~n~pm m
I rwrm? ?W
.r *- .
Example 24: Beethoven, Piano Sonata in D Minor, op. 31, no. 2, Largo-Allegro, mm. 39-76. junction with the more specific similarity of the two openings, its presence is telling. Third, the Beethoven movement can serve, together with many other sonata movements by the composer, as a model of motivic derivation of one thematic idea from another: note the extent to which the thematic ideas of the secondkey area are permeated by the two-note groups,
Beethoven's mm. 147-48 with Chopin's mm. 6-8). Second, the Allegro sections of Beethoven's main theme (mm. 3-6 and 9-21 in ex. 22) are constructed from two-note groups, most of which, at least initially, take the form of the sigh motif. The motif is, of course, too ubiquitous in music to establish by itself any relationship between the two works, but in con70
and specifically the sigh motif, of the main theme (see in particular mm. 42-54 and 69-75 in ex. 24). Taken individually, each of these Beethovenian traces in the Ballade may be of little consequence (although the allusion to the funeral march of op. 26 is significant and the similarity of the introduction to the Largosof op. 31, no. 2, seems to me too close to be wholly accidental). Taken together, they suggest that Chopin may have developed his technique of narrative continuity and his new genre of the Ballade that embodies it in a more direct confrontation with some aspects of Beethoven's legacy than previously suspected. In saying this, I do not wish to challenge Chopin's self-image. His work does stem from Mozart's to a much greater extent than from Beethoven's. If, with Dahlhaus, one recognizes not one but two "twin musical cultures" in the nineteenth century, a Rossinian culture of the beautiful centered on self-sufficient melody (an aristocratic, operatic, Romance culture for which music was a real performingevent) and a Beethovenian culture of the sublime centered on processual form grounded in thematic development (a middle-class, symphonic, Germanic culture for which music was an ideal
work requiring interpretations),42 Chopin's affinity with the former and distance from the latter cannot be in doubt. But dichotomies of this sort are useful only when they are treated not as rigid systems of classification ("Rossini qua,Beethovenla")but as flexible heuristic tools allowing one to recognize that, in any actual phenomenon, features of the twin ideal types are mixed and intertwined in a complex fashion, and to describe the mixture with some precision. With exhilarating (and for the pedants, maddening)abandon,Chopin transgressedmost of the familiar boundaries one can think of, the boundaries between aristocracy and middle class, femininity and masculinity, performance and print, nationalist peripheryand cosmopolitan center of Europe, classicism and romanticism, political and social conservatism and revolution, to pick just a few at random. True, he was a Mozartian,with his relative lack of interest in thematic development and his fixation on melody. But, to an extent greater than hitherto suspected, he may have been a ^ post-Beethovenian sort of Mozartian.
42Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-CenturyMusic, pp. 8-15.
KAROL BERGER Chopin's Ballade, op. 23
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