Hearing “les plaintes de la Pologne”: impressions of a nationalist narrative in selected nocturnes of Frédéric Chopin.




McGregor, Jennifer Lauren

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Chopin’s artistic philosophies were heavily indebted to his love of vocal music and his staunch belief that vocal expression represented the supreme essence of musical declamation. To his contemporaries in the Parisian salons, his veneration of the vocal ideal illuminated the expressive significance of Chopin’s musical language. Influenced by the dramatic function of operatic and vocal works, and by interpretive trends that associated literary programs with instrumental (textless) music, Chopin’s contemporaries searched for concealed narratives within his piano nocturnes. This thesis considers the narrative function of Chopin’s late nocturnes within the sociopolitical and musical culture of the Parisian salons, and utilizes a modern approach to narratology that resonates with a prominent facet of historical interpretation. The study reveals a specific reception in which audiences, influenced by the philosophies of Polish messianism, heard national narratives, sung pronouncements of his Polish nationality, and political support for the Polish nation in Chopin’s nocturnes.



Chopin, Frédéric, Polish culture, French Romanticism, Musical narrative, Messianism, Nocturnes, piano, Nocturnes, vocal, Paris, 1840s, Parisian salons, 1840s