Field And Chopin (1782-1837 And 1810-1849)

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01Field, Chopin And The Nocturne2012092420140407

Donald Macleod explores the origins of the nocturne.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míceál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field. John Field was considered the greatest pianist of his day, living an eccentric life in Russia, and admired across Europe by the likes of Hummel, Liszt, Schumann and Spohr. His talents as a pianist were renowned, and he taught many students including Glinka. During Chopin's early career, he was often asked if he was the pupil of John Field, which Chopin found flattering. Both composers developed enviable reputations as performers and composers, yet they both died relatively young due to illnesses they'd long suffered from. During the week, Donald Macleod will be exploring the legacy of both composers, and how Field may have influenced works later composed by Chopin.

When asked what he thought of Chopin, the composer and pianist John Field remarked: "What has he written? Nothing but mazurkas." Field had at that time only heard early Chopin, such as the Mazurka no.1 in B flat major. However, as a young pianist and composer, Fryderyk Chopin soon started to make a name for himself, and after a command performance for the Tsar of Russia, was awarded with a diamond ring.

Chopin entered the Warsaw Conservatoire, where he developed his skills further, composing works such as the Piano Trio in G minor. However, from early on there was an influence from the older composer John Field, which can be heard in Chopin's Nocturne no.7 in C sharp minor.

John Field was born in Ireland almost 30 years before the birth of Chopin, and like Chopin he quickly made his name as a pianist, although Field's talent was encouraged rather harshly, with beatings from his father and grandfather. Field was soon composing little dance-like works, such as his Irish sounding Rondo on the theme, "Go to the Devil". Recognising Field's talent, his family soon moved to London where young John was apprenticed to Muzio Clementi, known to the French as 'The Pope of Musicians'.

Field's apprenticeship required him to perform on regular occasions in Clementi's piano showrooms, encouraging prospective buyers to purchase an instrument. However, Field's reputation as a pianist was about to get a boost, with a performance in London at the age of about 17, of his first Piano Concerto no.1 in E flat major.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míċeál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field. John Field was considered the greatest pianist of his day, living an eccentric life in Russia, and admired across Europe by the likes of Hummel, Liszt, Schumann and Spohr. His talents as a pianist were renowned, and he taught many students including Glinka. During Chopin's early career, he was often asked if he was the pupil of John Field, which Chopin found flattering. Both composers developed enviable reputations as performers and composers, yet they both died relatively young due to illnesses they'd long suffered from. During the week, Donald Macleod will be exploring the legacy of both composers, and how Field may have influenced works later composed by Chopin.

02Field And Chopin Spread Their Wings2012092520140408

Donald Macleod explores Field and Chopin's early careers.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míceál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

John Field was now quickly establishing himself as a piano virtuoso in London, and was soon in demand for portrait painters and medallists. One picture to have survived from around 1800, shows Field to be sat, quill in hand, in the very act of composing his early Sonata in A major for the piano. These first sonatas Field dedicated to Clementi.

Clementi planned a business trip to Paris, and then on to St Petersburg, and Field journeyed with him. It was in Russia that Field would make his home for the rest of his life, and quickly established himself amongst the rich and aristocratic. For these aristocratic circles, Field composed a number of chamber works, including his Divertissement no.1 in E major.

Field now became so popular in both Moscow and St Petersburg, that he had an apartment in both cities. He kept his own servants and carriage, and often wouldn't turn up for appointments and lessons, but instead enjoy himself with friends drinking champagne, and smoking Havana cigars. Russian music did influence some of the works Field went on to compose, including his Variations on Kamarinskaya.

The Kamarinskaya variations by Field proved to be a source of inspiration to the younger composer Fryderyk Chopin, as pianist Míceál O'Rourke demonstrates. This is evident in Chopin's Variations in B flat on La ci darem la mano opus 2, which marked the composer's arrival on an international music stage.

Chopin like Field, moved away from his native land, and both composers went on to push the boundaries of piano playing and writing. For Chopin, this is very evident in his Ballades, such as Ballade no.1 in G minor.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míċeál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

Field now became so popular in both Moscow and St Petersburg, that he had an apartment in both cities. He kept his own servants and carriage, and often wouldn't turn up for appointments and lessons, but instead enjoy himself with friends drinking champagne, and smoking Havana cigars. Russian music did influence some of the works Field went on to compose, including his Variations on Kamarinskaya in B flat.

The Kamarinskaya variations by Field proved to be a source of inspiration to the younger composer Fryderyk Chopin, as pianist Míċeál O'Rourke demonstrates. This is evident in Chopin's Variations in B flat on La ci darem la mano opus 2, which marked the composer's arrival on an international music stage.

03Field And Chopin Unsuccessful In Love2012092620140409

Donald Macleod surveys the complicated love lives of John Field and Fryderyk Chopin.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míceál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

By around 1830, Chopin was now living in Vienna, and it was during this period that he composed some of his early nocturnes, including his Nocturne in E flat major, opus 9 no.2. Pianist Míceál O'Rourke explores in conversation with Donald Macleod, how this early nocturne by Chopin bears a direct relationship with the nocturnes of John Field.

This relationship extended past the nocturnes to the orchestration of larger works. Again demonstrating from the piano, Míceál O'Rourke explores the relationship between Field's Piano Concerto no.2, and the Piano Concerto no. 2 by Chopin.

Chopin found living in Vienna quite difficult, and decided to up sticks and move to Paris. He soon developed quite a reputation for himself, and was in demand as a teacher for aristocratic pupils. In fact, this enterprise made him so much money that he was able to afford a new flat and even a servant. It was around this early period in Paris that Chopin fell in love with one of his pupils, Maria Wodzinska, but the relationship came to nothing. Chopin did compose a number of romantic songs during this period, including My Darling, and The Ring.

The course of love for both Chopin and Field tended to be a rather bumpy ride. For John Field, he was now married to one of his talented pupils, Percherette. However, men found her coquettish nature very attractive, and Field himself was very flirtatious and fickle. 1815 saw the birth of Field's illegitimate son, Leon, and also the first sketches of Field's challenging Fifth Piano Concerto.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míċeál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

By around 1830, Chopin was now living in Vienna, and it was during this period that he composed some of his early nocturnes, including his Nocturne in E flat major, opus 9 no.2. Pianist Míċeál O'Rourke explores in conversation with Donald Macleod, how this early nocturne by Chopin bears a direct relationship with the nocturnes of John Field.

This relationship extended past the nocturnes to the orchestration of larger works. Again demonstrating from the piano, Míċeál O'Rourke explores the relationship between Field's Piano Concerto no.2, and the Piano Concerto no. 2 by Chopin.

04Field And Chopin At The Height Of Their Fame2012092720140410

Donald Macleod focuses on Field and Chopin at the height of their fame.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míceál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

By around 1819, things were not looking good for John Field's marriage. Field and his wife were not well suited, and were also incredible flirts. It was around this time in St Petersburg that they performed a piano duet in a concert together, which could have been Field's Rondeau in G for four hands. In that same year, Madame Field was pregnant with the couple's first child, yet by the time their son Adrien was eighteen months, the marriage was over.

By 1822, Field was at the height of his fame, and many musicians flocked to see and hear him perform. The pianist and composer Hummel was in Moscow where Field now lived, and was determined to meet Field. Pianist Míceál O'Rourke in conversation with Donald Macleod, discusses how Field was viewed by his contemporaries during this period. This was a time when Field was also enjoying himself playing the viola in amateur string ensembles, and for one of these occasions, he may have composed his Quintet in A flat major.

Frederyk Chopin was also at the height of his career by 1836, and like the older composer John Field, he also had a very complicated relationship, which by the standards of the time, would have been seen as scandalous and socially problematic. Chopin and George Sand decided to get away from it all, and escaped to Majorca. This holiday was not what they expected, with appalling weather, and Chopin's health deteriorating. During this time, he was able to work on a number of pieces for piano, including his set of 24 preludes opus 28.

From 1839, now back in France, Chopin started to complete what would be his second piano sonata. This work confused many musicians at the time. Robert Schumann wrote that the four movements were like "four unruly children".

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míċeál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

By 1822, Field was at the height of his fame, and many musicians flocked to see and hear him perform. The pianist and composer Hummel was in Moscow where Field now lived, and was determined to meet Field. Pianist Míċeál O'Rourke in conversation with Donald Macleod, discusses how Field was viewed by his contemporaries during this period. This was a time when Field was also enjoying himself playing the viola in amateur string ensembles, and for one of these occasions, he may have composed his Quintet in A flat major.

05 LASTField And Chopin And Their Legacy2012092820140411

Donald Macleod evaluates the impact of Field and Chopin on other composers.

Donald Macleod in conversation with the pianist Míċeál O'Rourke, explores two piano giants, the towering Romantic Fryderyk Chopin, and the Father of the Nocturne John Field.

By the mid 1840s, Chopin and George Sand's relationship had come to a stormy end. The last time he saw Sand was in 1848, although he always kept a lock of her hair. During this same period, Chopin was trying to finish a sonata for a friend of his, the cellist Auguste Franchomme. Chopin wrote a little, and crossed out a lot, but eventually completed his Sonata in G minor for cello and piano, opus 65.

In 1848, revolution had broken out in Paris, and Chopin's aristocratic friends and pupils had fled. Chopin himself made a trip to London and Scotland, but the heavily-polluted London air did nothing for his consumptive lungs, and Chopin returned to Paris. By October 1849, Chopin had died and was buried in a grave between Bellini and Cherubini. The final nocturne Chopin composed two years before his death, was the Nocturne in C minor no.21.

The composer and pianist John Field was also very ill towards the end of his life, and like Chopin in a bid to drum up more support, left his home and travelled to London and then toured other parts of Europe. Field gave his first Paris concert in 1832, performing his Piano Concert no.7. Míċeál O'Rourke discusses with Donald Macleod how this work was not only very challenging for the ailing composer, but also now out of date, and didn't leave a great impression on Liszt and Chopin who were present in the audience. Field made his way back to Russia, and was by this time very ill. He died in 1837.

Pianist Míceál O'Rourke in discussion with Donald Macleod, concludes the week talking about the legacies of both Chopin and Field. Chopin was a remarkable pianist, but none of his students went on to be great performers. Field on the other hand taught many notable pianists, and can be seen as the Father Figure to the Russian piano tradition.

Pianist Míċeál O'Rourke in discussion with Donald Macleod, concludes the week talking about the legacies of both Chopin and Field. Chopin was a remarkable pianist, but none of his students went on to be great performers. Field on the other hand taught many notable pianists, and can be seen as the Father Figure to the Russian piano tradition.