Episode 66: Inspired by Chopin: Federico Mompou

Prelude in A Major, Op. 28, No. 7

rc-mompou-200Tracing the legacy of Fryderyk Chopin is an exercise that leads along many diverse paths. One of them goes through Catalonia.

Like Chopin, Federico Mompou chose Paris as the place to build his career as a pianist and composer. He moved there in 1911 from his native Barcelona to work with a teacher who’d studied with one of Chopin’s pupils. Also like Chopin, Mompou composed mostly for piano. Chopin remembered Poland when he wrote mazurkas and polonaises; Mompou flavored his compositions with Catalonian folk influences.

The clearest connection of all is Mompou’s set of Variations on a Theme by Chopin. He started in 1938 with some sketches for cello and piano. But it took nearly 30 years for him to finish the piece—in solo piano form.

Mompou’s inspiration was Chopin’s Prelude No. 7. But he also nods to another prelude and to Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu. True to the theme and variations form, Mompou starts by quoting Chopin faithfully. But soon, Mompou’s own voice takes over.

As the variations reveal, there was plenty of time in the decades separating Chopin and Mompou for other influences to intervene: Debussy and Satie, for instance. Maybe even a little Gershwin. In other words, the salon where Mompou is most at home is furnished with art deco, not Louis-Philippe. But his music speaks with the sincere, direct emotion that also formed the center of Chopin’s musical world. - Rachel Stewart & Don Lee

Radio Chopin Episode 66: Inspired by Chopin: Federico Mompou

Prelude in A Major, Op. 28, No. 7

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