Chasing Chopin: A Musical Journey Across Three Centuries, Four Countries, and a Half-Dozen Revolutions

Category: Book
By (author): LaFarge, Annik
Subject:  HISTORY / Europe / General
  HISTORY / Modern / 19th Century
  MUSIC / General
  MUSIC / History & Criticism
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: August 2021
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 240
Size: 8.37in x 5.50in
Our Price:
$ 23.00
Availability:
In stock

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*A modern take on a classical icon: this "luminous book" (Susan Orlean, New York Times bestselling author of The Library Book) tells the story of when, where, and how Chopin composed his most famous work, uncovering many surprises along the way and showing how his innovative music still animates and thrives in our culture centuries later.

In this widely-praised book, Annik LaFarge presents a very different Frédéric Chopin from the melancholy, sickly, Romantic figure that has predominated for so long. The artist she discovered is, instead, a purely independent-and endlessly relevant-spirit: an innovator who created a new musical language; an autodidact who became a spiritually generous, trailblazing teacher; a stalwart patriot during a time of revolution, pandemic, and exile.

One of America's foremost pianists, Jeremy Denk, wrote in The New York Times: "It is almost impossible for me to imagine a world in which [Chopin's "Funeral March"] is both fresh and tragic, where its death is real. LaFarge's charming and loving new book attempts to recover this world…This book took me into many unexpected corners…For a book about death, it's bursting with life and lively research."

In this "entertaining dual music history and memoir" (Publishers Weekly), a "seamless blend of the musical and literary verve" (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) LaFarge "brilliantly traces the footsteps of Chopin's life" (Scott Yoo, host of PBS Now Hear This) during the three years, 1837–1840, when he composed the now-iconic Funeral March, using its composition story to illuminate the key themes of Chopin's life.

As part of her research into Chopin's world, then and now, LaFarge visited piano makers, monuments, churches, and archives; she talked to scholars, jazz musicians, video game makers, music teachers, theater directors, and of course dozens of pianists. She has given us, says pianist, author, and New York Times columnist Michael Kimmelman, "a tour-de-force and journey of the soul."

It is an engrossing, "impeccably researched" (Library Journal) work of musical discovery and an artful portrayal of a man whose work and life continue to inspire artists and cultural innovators in astonishing ways.

An acclaimed companion website, WhyChopin, presents links to each piece of music mentioned in the book, organized by chapter, along with photos, resources, and more.
Review Quote*"It is almost impossible for me to imagine a world in which [Chopin's ‘Funeral March'] is both fresh and tragic, where its death is real. Annik LaFarge's charming and loving new book attempts to recover this world…This book took me into many unexpected corners…For a book about death, it's bursting with life and lively research."
Review Quote*"The lurid fantasies foisted on the composer since his death have made him almost unrecognisable - though Annik LaFarge does much to dispel them...an intensely personal journey through time, place and politics....LaFarge is weighty (and great) on the importance and singularity of Chopin's friend and patron Astolphe de Custine...she has a good eye and ear for her subject, choosing her anecdotes with care."
Review Quote*"[LaFarge's] loving pursuit of the man behind such music is an intriguing collage of people, places, relationships, instruments, and national struggles ... well worth reading. It is instructive, engaging, and sincere."
Review Quote*"Annik LaFarge's Chasing Chopin is a slim book but it stands out because it's a hybrid work-biography and journalism-with utterly lovely, vivid descriptions of Chopin's music."
Review Quote*"[A] wonderful book...LaFarge's intellectual curiosity, free of any musical or ideological agenda, is infectious, and she brings the broad analysis of a polymath to her subject...[a companion] website is replete with pertinent videos and recordings that raises the bar on how music-themed books will be expected to incorporate multimedia henceforth."
Review Quote*"LaFarge delves passionately into the history and culture-up to the present day-surrounding Chopin's legendary Opus 35 sonata, whose third movement contains ‘the world's most famous funeral march'…a singular work…a seamless blend of the musical and literary verve, with just enough research to ground and elucidate."
Review Quote*"This slender but wide-ranging volume is impeccably researched....never seems overly scholarly and will appeal to a variety of general readers."
Review Quote*"[An] entertaining dual music history and memoir...LaFarge's affectionate fan's notes flow as melodiously as a Chopin opus."
Review Quote*"A luminous book, rich with reporting and reflection and marvelously animated by LaFarge's passion for the subject. Whether you love Chopin doesn't matter: This is an irresistible journey into history and the nature of genius."