Masculine and Feminine Compositions: Frederic Chopin and his body (of work)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the world of classical music, a composer’s body rarely figures in the reception of their compositions. The reception of one composer, however, seems unique in this regard; observations about Frédéric Chopin's physical identity, and perceptions about his masculinity, significantly impacted upon the appreciation and understanding of his music, ultimately colouring the ways in which his works have been viewed. This article considers how Chopin’s masculinity was constructed during his life and following his death. It surveys a selection of press reviews and testimonies, alongside early Chopin biographies, in order to establish how the image of Chopin developed relative to physical weaknesses and (an apparent lack of) masculinity. Taken as a whole, this image encapsulates a sense of masculinity itself, pronounced and projected within nineteenth century music criticism. Alongside this core theme, the article considers some of the other preoccupations that may have played a part in the construction of Chopin’s reception. In particular, the apparent divisions between the Classical and Romantic schools of music. That such sentiments may still be heard to this day makes one question whether a body of work may ever be separated from the body that produced it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-95
Number of pages12
JournalHARTS & Minds
Volume3
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

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