Chopin's Heritage in Contemporary Polish Education

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Dziedzictwo chopinowskie we współczesnej edukacji polskiej

Chopin's Heritage in Contemporary Polish Education

The purpose of the present study is to examine Fryderyk Chopin's oeuvre from the perspective of the principles of general artistic education relating both to the subject "Music" in all stages of education and - in accordance with the trends in contemporary teaching - in the context of interdisciplinary approach to his works.

As the analysis of coursebooks approved for school use shows, the position of Chopin's music in contemporary education has been significantly emphasized. The authors of all coursebooks included the compositions of Poland's great Romantic composer, having selected them most often by the diversity of genres, by sounds of stylized folk music, by the Polish nature of his music against the background of historical events, by the performing personalities, and by the possibility of analytical listening depending on the age of school students and their perception skills.

Primary school pupils are offered in all the coursebooks a total of 27 pieces of different genres. These include three songs (Życzenie [The Wish], Hulanka [Merrymaking] and Wojak [The Warrior]), three Polonaises (juvenile in G minor, in A major Op. 40 No. 1, in A flat major Op. 53), seven Mazurkas (in B flat major Op. 7 No. 1, in A minor Op. 68 No. 2, in G minor Op. 24 No. 1, in D major Op. 33 No. 2, in C major Op. 7 No. 5, in E major Op. 6 No. 3, in F major Op. 68 No. 3), three Waltzes (in D flat major Op. 64 No. 1, in A minor Op. 34 No. 2, in F major Op. 34 No. 3), five Preludes (in D flat major, in E minor, in A major, in D minor, and in A flat major Op. 28), one Etude (in C minor Op. 10 No. 12), Scherzo in B minor Op. 20, and the initial fragments of two first movements of Concerto in E minor and Variations in B flat major Op. 2.

The compositions by Chopin contained in gimnazjum [lower secondary school] coursebooks are somewhat fewer in number. This is accounted for by the fact that, unlike the three-year cycle in primary school, in which children have music classes for three years, gimnazjum students have only one hour of music class per week in their first year of instruction. The coursebook authors therefore recommend that students learn five Mazurkas (which are all included in the coursebooks for fourth-sixth forms): in F major Op. 68 No. 3, in D major Op. 33 No. 2, in B flat major Op. 7 No. 1, in F major Op. 68 No. 3 and in A minor Op. 68 No. 2. The remaining pieces are Preludes (in E minor, in A major, in D minor), Polonaises in G minor, in A major, in A flat major Op. 53, in C sharp minor Op. 26 No. 1) and Scherzo in B minor, Etude in C minor Op. 10 No. 12, Ballade in G minor, Waltz in D flat major Op. 64 No. 1, Rondo à la Krakowiak, Song Życzenie [The Wish] in a local version and in a piano arrangement by Liszt; and the fragments of both Concertos.

An analytical study concerning the place of Chopin's music in Polish coursebooks shows that there is a group of his compositions, which can be called especially popular. These are: Waltz in D flat major Op. 64 No. 1, Mazurka in D major Op. 33 No. 2, Polonaise in A major Op. 40 No. 1, Polonaise in A flat major Op. 53, Scherzo in B minor (the fragment with the carol) and Prelude in D flat major Op. 28 No. 15. More difficult and longer compositions, which are, consequently, intended for more mature listeners, were included only in some gimnazjum textbooks. It should be observed that no coursebook has included any nocturnes in its repertory despite the fact that Chopin made this genre a form of piano poetry, transforming them into the most beautiful and best known lyrical compositions.

Chopin's music inspired and still inspires many artists in different fields of art and in various areas of music. This is demonstrated by countless painting and literary works, sculptures, photos, or by original musical arrangements ranging from jazz to rock. While avoiding far-reaching judgments of some of these undertakings, there is certainly no denying that their intention is to discover anew the lasting value of the beauty of Chopin's music, which in the case of young people can breed new ways to become acquainted with the oeuvre of Poland's genius composer.

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Annales UMCS, Artes

The Journal of Maria Curie-Sklodowska University

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