how to listen to music if you don’t know your Beethoven from your Bach, lV

by richibi

Fantasy - Sergey Solomko



               Sergey Solomko




trying to find a quick piece, nothing

ostentatious, like a symphony, or a

concerto, nor even a sonata, that

would get in the way of my point, 

the difference between, by way of 

the intermediary, and transformational,

Chopin, Mozart and Prokofiev, I found

the fantasia, the only musical form

that was carried forward, among them,

during the intervening years, a good

hundred and fifty, Mozart, 1756 – 1791,

Prokofiev, 1891 – 1953, Chopin, 1810 –



what’s a fantasia, a musical form

consisting of one movement,

no breaks, but with, otherwise,

unlimited compositional liberties,

see above, only circumscribed by

the temper of the times


Western music has since its

Classical inception, and even

earlier, had a trinity of

commandments, that regulated,

even defined, what was meant

to be music, tempo, tonality,

and repetition, the history of

music in the West is the

chipping away at those



here’s Mozart, Fantasia in C

minor, K.475establishing the

form, but also the foundation,

the grammar, that aspirants

would follow in the footsteps

of so great a master, children

and grandchildren of their

erudite elder


Chopin followed, here’s his

Fantasy in F minor, Op.49,

in this instance, a historical

moment you won’t want to

miss, when Van Cliburn, an

enemy American at the time,

played it for Nikita Kruschev,

First Secretary of the Communist 

Party of the Soviet Union then, in

Moscow, and tempered thereby,

for an incandescent moment –

ticker-tape parades in New York

City ensued – the very Cold War


reliving it, I cried


the greatest difference between

Mozart and Chopin, I thought,

was volume, a consequence

of the development of the piano,

Mozart never gets as loud, also

tempo was much more expanded,

again a development of the piano,

neither was repetition with Chopin

so much in evidence, but shrouded,

less manifest


also Chopin wears his heart on

his sleeve, idiosyncratically


with Prokofiev, his Fantasia on

Themes from Scheherazade

tests tonality, gives us musical

conjunctions that are askew,

discordant, though completely

in syncopation with his own,

testy and unsettled, times


compare, consider, enjoy



R ! chard