Klarinet Archive - Posting 000291.txt from 1995/03
From: Fred Jacobowitz <fredj@-----.EDU>
Subj: Re: The Stately Polacca
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 1995 13:27:46 -0500
As is often the case in such differences of opinion, we are both
right. Firstly, though, your examples are excellent.
I prefer to look in musical dictionaries whenver I can, when it
comes to musical matters which can be hair-splitting. After all, I
wouldn't look in Webster's for the definitive lowdown on a medical
condition. I'd look in a medical encyclopedia. By the same token, I think
the Americna Heritage Dictionary is not the most authoritative source. I
looked in the two musical dictionaries which are univerally agreed to be
the most authoritative and they both say that, yes, the term polacca is
usually translated as Italian for "polonaise". However, both go on to
assert that it often has a different meaning. To quote from the New Groves
Dictionary of Music: "Polacca (It.: "Polish") A term applied to
compositions inthe Polish style ('alla polacca'); is usually taken as the
Italian equivalent of Polonaise....came to be applied to instrumental or
vocal pieces related tenuously or not at all to the
polonaise...Instrumental polaccas are often showy and ornate...Thus,
Chopin...wrote of his 'alla polacca' with 'cello accompaniment op. 3 as "nothing
more than abrilliant drawing-room piece"..."
So you are definitely right about the faster nature of the Weber 'alla
I wish to add to all those students out there that any good
university library should have at least one of these two dictionaries
(the New Groves or the Harvard Dictionary of Music) and certainly any
college with a school of music should have both. If yours doesn't,
complain. It is worth it to be able to solve musical conundrums
(conundra?) like this one.
On Thu, 9 Mar 1995, Jonathan
> Nichelle Crocker said:
> >Tell me if I understand this clearly: Stately does not have to mean slow.
> >It is an indication about the character of the music and not the tempo.
> >Jonathan Cohler made two listening suggestions:
> >"Listen to the Polonaise Brilliante by Wieniawski, for example, or the famous
> >Chopin piano Polonaise."
> >I would like more suggestions for listening.
> Here's more detailed information on the pieces I mentioned. First, the
> Polonaise Brillante by Wieniawski, Op. 21 for violin and piano. Note the
> tempo marking is "Allegro moderato". And you will also note upon listening
> to it that it is @-----.
> Second, Wieniawski also wrote another piece for violin and piano called
> Polonaise de Concert, Op. 5. The tempo marking is "Allegro maestoso". And
> again this piece is stately, fast and virtuosic.
> Third, the famous Chopin Polonaise I referred to was Op. 40 No. 1 in A
> major. Tempo marking "Allegro con brio". Need I say it again? Stately,
> energetic and often fast.
> Fourth, I didn't mention before, Chopin has another Polonaise Op. 26 No. 1
> in C# minor marked "Allegro appassionato".
> If you listen to these four examples, I think you'll hear the character of
> the Polonaise that I was referring to. Note that none of these Polonaise's
> have slow tempo markings, because it's a "marchlike" dance and marches have
> to move along at a natural marching pace or people step all over each
> >I would also like some
> >suggestions for reading.
> Can't help here. Anyone have some sources?
> Hope this helps. Have fun listening!
> Jonathan Cohler