Maria Szymanowska


It is necessary to perceive great composers not as an isolated point of view, but as part of a bigger picture. This perspective does not make them less valuable, on the contrary, it puts them in a neater perspective. In this way, it is possible to illuminate the previous generations, which, although successful in their own fields, did not shine the light of popularity.

For example, Schubert; Although he became famous as the creator of small piano works with a romantic character, it was Bohemian origin Vaclav Jan Tomasek (1774-1850) and Jan Hugo Vorisek (1791-1825) who produced compositions in this form years before him.

It is unlikely that Chopin did not know these composers, since their works were still popular in his time. Also, Chopin had visited Bohemia. A stronger possibility is that Chopin met this music in Poland.

There was a small but active Czech colony located in Warsaw, including Chopin's first teacher, Wojciech Zywny (1756-1842). Wenzel Würfel (1791-1832), one of the students of the Bohemian composer Tomasek, whom I mentioned above, was one of the names included in this group. It is a known fact that Würfel came to Warsaw in 1815 and gave organ lessons at the conservatory.

Maria Szymanowska, described as the “Queen of the Song” by the great Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz, was also overshadowed by Chopin, but is one of the most important female composers of the “previous generation”.

Szymanowska was born on September 14, 1790 in Warsaw. He was baptized on September 22. It didn't take long for Francisze and Barbara Wolowskieven's daughter, Maria, to discover her musical talent, and at the age of 8 she started taking her first formal piano lessons.

I would like to point out that Chopin's teacher, Elsner, was a close friend of the Wolowskieven family and frequently visited their house.

Married in 1810 with the landowner Josef Szymanowski, Maria had two daughters and a son from this marriage, which ended in 1821.

Maria met John Field before 1821, studied piano with him, and soon became her favorite student.

Regardless of her talent or beauty, Irish Field, a fierce critic and teacher, also wrote a reference letter for her student to her own publisher, Brietkopf & Hartel. Young Maria's works have been published by renowned organizations such as Ricordi (Milan, Italy). It is known that the duo performed duet works in Moscow.

Maria, whose fame spread all over Europe, gave concerts in Leipzig, Dresden, Paris and London. He met Goethe, and a passionate relationship began between the two.

Goethe's friend and German conductor Carl Friedrich Zelter, who composed music for many of his works, favored Maria, whom he listened to in Berlin in 1824, above another famous name of the period, Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Maria, who had the opportunity to meet many famous names such as Rossini, Cherubini, Mendelssohn during the tours, also met the famous poet Pushkin during her time with the Russian aristocracy.

Polish pianist, St. He died on July 25, 1831, in the cholera epidemic that occurred in St. Petersburg.

“Le Murmure”, the nocturn in A flat major, which the composer played frequently when he was alive and which means “mirror”, which became one of the popular works of the period, is one of his works that should be listened to.

Maria Szymanowska and 19th Century Salon Music

First of all, I find it useful to explain the expression "Hall Music" because it has taken its place in the literature as a very subjective and ambiguous term. Let's start with Webster's definition: “Instrumental music that does not require serious artistic performance, has a light, comforting and emotional character”. The terms "Hall Music" and "Hall Composer" were used by Schumann in 1837, and the composer praised this music genre rather than belittled it. elegant used the phrase.

Schumann, who also praised Henselt's composition Op.1839 “Hall Etudes” in 5, described etudes in miniature form as “beautiful melodies with beautiful forms”.

In one way or another, it was agreed that hall music should have a character that pleases, emotionalizes and is artistically innovative. The works of Maria Szymanowska also fall into this category. Among these works are Etude in F major, Mazurka in C major no. 17, and Polonez in F minor with his Nocturne nicknamed “Le murmure”.

Selected 20 exercises and their preludes were first published in 1820 by Breitkopf and Hartel (Leipzig). The second edition was published in 1825 to include 12 works.

Robert Schumann, the powerful composer and critic of the period, whose intellectual level and critic is unknown today, analyzed these works and wrote the following article:

I'm sure this name brings back fond memories for all of us. This virtuoso has often been called the "female Field". He was judged by his studies. These works are like graceful sky wings. It neither raises nor compresses the scales, nor should anyone play it harshly. If we praise women when they play etudes, we should do more when they compose etudes. Very nice works for decoration and rhythm practice…

Szymanowska's study in F major provides a good example of this. While the right hand performs ornamental melodies, the left hand provides familiar tempo accompaniment. You can find compositions with this character in Field and Lessel.

Mazurka number 17 is also a piece composed for entertaining encounters with character and structure. Composer's Mazurkas were published in three different editions between 1820-30. The Boosey edition, published in 1830, contains 24 Mazurkas.

Maria's Mazurkas are a more artistic take on the theme, although it contains characteristics parallel to that of Chopin. Szymanowska's dances, according to Chopin, embodied the local folk dance motifs of the earlier period.

Although the F minor one of the 6 Polonaises he composed has technical difficulties, cantabile ve bound tempo chimes retain the typical hall music spirit.


Willi Kahl, Das lyrische Klavierstiick Schuberts und seiner Vorganger seit 1810, in Archiv fiir Musikwissenschaft, IIL (1921), 54-82, 99-122

Paul Nettl, Forgotten Musicians, New York, 1951, pp. 91-109.

Jaroslav Prochdzka, Chopin und Bohmen, in Chopin Jahrbuch, Vienna, 1956, pp. 216-33.

Jan Racek, Ceskd hudba, Prague, 1958, p. 200

Anne Swartz, The Polish ReviewVol. 30, no. 1 (1985), pp. 43-58

Terry de Valera, Dublin Historical Record Vol. 56, No. 1 (Spring, 2003), pp. 53-55


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