Classical Music

Passport Ireland – John Field

Eire – it’s a beautiful island filled with passionate people. Same goes for their music. Sure, we all know the celtic sounds from there. We picture groups such as the Chieftains with the uilleann pipes, a tin whistle, a bodhran and a fiddle, but how about a virtuoso pianist?

Enter John Field. A predecessor to Chopin, he made a living playing the piano all over Europe the first half of the 19th century.

John Field

John Field, engraving by Carl Mayer Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum; photograph, J.R. Freeman & Co. Ltd.

John Field (1782-1837)

Hometown: Dublin

Played: Piano

Known for: Shorter piano pieces, nocturnes

Like many of the other composers I’ve been writing about, I knew absolutely nothing about John Field and am pleased with the music I’ve found, such as this nocturne.

This is what I learned from Encyclopaedia Britannica:

Field was one of the earliest of the purely piano virtuosos, and his style and technique strikingly anticipated those of Chopin. As a composer he was at his best in shorter pieces, where his expressive melodies and his imaginative harmonies, often chromatic, are not exposed to the strain of long development. Field wrote seven piano concerti and four sonatas, in which high quality is often apparent but not consistently maintained. In the nocturnes, more concise and intimate than his larger works, Field’s music is distinguished in style and varied in mood.

Here is his Nocturne No. 2 in C Minor. This is just lovely – I wouldn’t mind learning to play this one.

Now this is his Piano Concerto in E flat Major No. 4 H28. Paolo Restani is the pianist. (No actual video, just audio)

The movements are:

I Allegro moderato
II Siciliano: Poco adagio
III Rondò: Allegretto

What do you think of this one? It’s amazing how many musicians are out there that we rarely, if ever, hear about. Nice to try something new!

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