Mark McKenzie

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Composer Fryderyk Chopin / Józef Elsner / The Lost Child

Sometime ago, while in Paris I ran across this Louvre portrait of a composer I enjoy possibly more than any other: Fryderyk Chopin. In reading the new biography Fryderyk Chopin A Life and Times by Alan Walker, I am taken by Chopin’s composition teacher Józef Elsner’s maxims to his students that he posted on his office door; they demonstrate how a fine composition teacher thinks:  “It is a bad master who is not surpassed by his student.  The study of composition should not be restrained by observing too many petty rules, especially by students who’s gifts are self evident. Allow them to discover the rules for themselves. One should never expose a student to just one point of view. It is not enough for a student to equal his or surpass his master, rather, he should create his own individuality. * An artist should open himself to his surroundings. Only then, and only through such influences can he attain his true self. Each part of a composition should share the same objective. It should belong to the whole. Otherwise the beauty of a work is lost, for all beauty arises from the union of multiple parts.” Fryderyk Chopin and Józef Elsner give me much reason to work harder as a composer. There is definitely some Chopin / Elsner influence in the “Lost Child.” You can pick up a copy of “The Lost Child Suite for Piano” in this website’s music shop.

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