[KS] Re: Fw: Experience of Han

Eugene Y. Park eypark at fas.harvard.edu
Fri Feb 5 17:56:04 EST 1999

Dear Mr. Miller:

Being an avid Chopin fan, I couldn't resist from jumping in.  I certainly
do see a parallel.  His most famous, mature pieces certainly reflect the
what may be comparable to the Korean Han.  Curiously, I've always been more
drawn to his earlier pieces, especially the six using an orchestra, that
seem relatively free of the Polish Han (if I may!).  One sees mostly
youthful, innocent  celebration of Polish folk dances or motifs (e.g.
Krakowiak, Andante Spianato et Grand Polonaise, Grand Fantasy on Polish
Airs), although the two concertos begin to show his melancholic side more
familiar to us all.  Besides the fact that he was barely 20 at the time of
these compositions, I wonder if his departure from Warsaw for Paris is a
significant dividing line, separating these "Han-free" works of early years
in Poland from the mature later works in France.  I suppose, one becomes
aware of his national Han, not only as he reaches adulthood but also as he
finds himself in an alien surrounding, detached from his homeland.  Could
it be that one become more atturned to his Han while watching from afar his
countrymen suffering, rather than being there among the suffering

Gene Park

>This doesn't *directly* relate, but I ran across something interesting a
>while back.  It was from Douglas R. Hofstadter's _Metamagical Themas_, pp.
>185-6.  He is writing about Chopin, but I find the _han_ parallel
>"The Poles are a people who have learned to distinguish sharply between
>two concepts of Poland:  Poland the abstract social entity, at whose core
>are the Polish language and culture, and Poland the concrete geographical
>entity, the land that the Poles live in.  Navro d polski--the "Polish
>Nation"--represents a spirit rather than a piece of territory, although of
>course the nation came into existence because of the bonds between people
>who lived in a certain region.  It is the fragility of this flickering
>flame, and the determination to keep it alive, that Chopin's music
>reflects so purely and poignantly.  There is a certain fusion of
>bitterness, anger and sadness called  zal [actually, that's a "z" with a
>dot over it] that is uniquely Polish.  One hears it, to be sure, in the
>famous mazurkas and polonaises, pieces that Chopin composed in the form of
>national dances. ... But one hears this burning flame of Poland just as
>much in many of Chopin's other pieces ... where a ray o!
> f !
>hope bursts through dark visions like a gleam in the gloom.  One hears
>zal in the angry, buzzing harmonies of the  Etude in C-sharp minor and the
>passion of the  Etude in E major.  In fact, Chopin is said to have cried
>out once, on hearing this piece played in his presence, "O ma patrie!" ("O
>my homeland!")
>Surely this is as equivalent to Korean _han_ as one is ever likely to
>find, no?
>Mike Miller

I am out of town and unable to check the email until January 2, 1999.  In
the interim, I can be reached by phone at 949-457-3464.

Eugene Park


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