Art and Big Ideas Events

The Elusive Chopin

17 August 2016

How did Chopin create some of the greatest masterpieces in the piano literature?

This illustrated talk by John Rink, Professor of Musical Performance Studies and a Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge, seeks to answer this question starting with a tour of his pianos, where his musical ideas were initially conceived and fully developed.

It then looks at Chopin’s compositional process and the different types of score that he produced over time, including sketches, abandoned manuscripts, fair copies intended for use by publishers and copies presented to friends as keepsakes. The multiple first editions and the autograph glosses in the scores used by Chopin’s students are also discussed, prior to a final consideration of the fate of Chopin’s music after his death.

This conversation challenges any assumptions we might have about the identity and stability of the Chopin's work, while allowing us to celebrate one of the richest musical imaginations the world has ever known.

About Professor John Rink

John Rink is Professor of Musical Performance Studies and a Fellow of St John's College. He studied at Princeton University, King's College London, and the University of Cambridge, where his doctoral research was on the evolution of tonal structure in Chopin's early music and its relation to improvisation. He also holds the Concert Recital Diploma and Premier Prix in piano from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He specialises in the fields of performance studies, theory and analysis, and nineteenth-century studies, and has published six books with Cambridge University Press, including The Practice of Performance: Studies in Musical Interpretation (1995), Chopin: The Piano Concertos (1997), Musical Performance: A Guide to Understanding (2002), and Annotated Catalogue of Chopin's First Editions (with Christophe Grabowski; 2010). He is a co-editor of Chopin Studies 2 (with Jim Samson; 2004) and the Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (with Nicholas Cook, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and Eric Clarke; 2009); he is also General Editor of the five-book series Studies in Musical Performance as Creative Practice, published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

Fathom by Jane Grant and John Matthias

In the first event for the Arts and Big Ideas series for 2016, artist Jane Grant and composer John Matthias presented their project Fathom, a major soundwork which immersed people in the live underwater experience of the Tamar Estuary.

Jane Grant and John Matthias, are co-directors of the art + sound research group at Plymouth University UK whose core members include artists, scientists, sound artists and musicians. The group fosters connections in the creative, academic and scientific disciplines by exploring the intersection of practice, theory and applied technology. There is a special emphasis on the interplay between sound, moving image and installation.