Mark McKenzie

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Composer Fryderyk Chopin / Józef Elsner / The Lost Child

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I love the ground breaking new definitive biography of Chopin called “Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times” by Alan Walker.

Chopin’s composition teacher Józef Elsner had these maxims 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.”

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