Worship and Music - Ethnomusicology


Master of Arts (MA)


Katherine Morehouse


Mazurkas, Polish Nationalism


Composition | Cultural History | Ethnomusicology | European History | History | Music


The innovative character of Chopin Mazurkas is forever linked with Polish culture. This thesis examines how the unmistakable sound of the Mazurka captures the Polish sound more than any other work written by the composer and how it contributes to Polish cultural nationalism during the Polish diaspora of the nineteenth-century.

In this study, the author presents a brief examination on Chopin's traditional interpretation of his mazurkas as well as isolating the characteristics of Polish interpretation that sets the Mazurka performance apart from the non-traditional style. A research case is made when contrasting the current concept of the classical execution of the mazurka to the traditional Polish playing technique.

This study is composed of two main sections. The first section includes an analysis of Chopin's letters and his remarks regarding the proper interpretation of the Mazurka. In addition, this first section includes archival information obtained from the Polish Institute of Culture. The second section includes a score analysis of Chopin's mazurkas and a series of recordings made by the author of this study with the purpose of eliminating the rhythmic ambiguity of the mazurka and distinguishing it from the non-traditional interpretation.

The results will show that, in the areas analyzed in this thesis, Chopin's strong patriotic feelings are inscribed on his music. This thesis presents evidence that Chopin's mazurkas were instinctively created out of émigré feelings for Poland and destined to display the sensitivity of the song of the Polish peasant.