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Ex-Pat Chopin, and Polish Nationialism in the Ballades

Updated: Aug 16, 2020

In researching the background on the Chopin Ballades, I found that the Polish history of the day had a huge bearing on why Chopin composed these Ballades.  Briefly, Nationalism was a huge trend and influence on Chopin, as he found himself in self-imposed exile in Paris in 1930 after the failed November Uprising against Russian occupancy, specifically in the failed assassination of the Grand Duke Constantine.  Constantine, reputedly suffering from cholera, was at the brink of insanity, and frequently, in the middle of the night, called upon Chopin - who called him the monkey-faced monster - to entertain him. The aristocracy and intellectuals of Poland fled to "temporary" exile in Paris, where they refused to assimilate, figuring that Polish independence was imminent.  They never returned to Poland.  They came to rely on each other, especially Chopin upon the poet Adam Mickiewicz, for connection to their motherland.  In the 4 Ballades, Chopin was at least minimally influenced by the folk tales of "Ballady" by Mickiewicz:  after studying the 2nd Ballade, I am convinced that, even with knowledge of Chopin's objection to program music, Chopin describes in this Ballade passage by passage the horrific story "The Pilgrim" (to be discussed next week). This has been an interesting journey for me- I've found animations made in Poland, movies on Amazon Prime, tons of resources on the internet.  Here are a few links to things you might find interesting: be sure to scroll down the comments for this, someone has annotated the events of this movie Animated History of Poland Świtezianka (The Nixie) TRAILER The Lost Town of Świteź

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You did an excellent research. Very interesting topic. Thanks!

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Julie Woodall
Julie Woodall
06. Aug. 2020

I sure did enjoy your presentation on Chopin today, Carol. I always wondered why Chopin never returned to Poland, but never took the time to find out why. Such an interesting and well done talk!! Thanks!

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