Daily Archives: December 2, 2009 12:17 am

Musical surprises #2: Chopin’s mazurkas aren’t mazurkas

Share

Or to be more precise, Chopin uses the term ‘mazurka’ as a blanket term for a family of dances which include the kujawiak, the mazur and the obertas. Maya Trochimczyk’s article on the mazurka spells it out nicely – or rather, unravels it and lays all the components on the table. The fact that Chopin’s mazurkas include all three types, not to mention his own pianistic and composerly embroidery on the form, means that you can’t just pick a mazurka by Chopin and say ‘That’s a mazurka’, extract the defining features, copy it and get another mazurka.

It’s a bit like saying you want to go to Stoke-on-Trent, which as I discovered only a few years ago, is not actually a town with a centre, but a  polycentric federation of six towns.