“Wagner gave melodies to his emotions, while Chopin gave his emotions to each melody,” said André Gide in his book “Notes on Chopin.”
It might seem like nothing more than clever wordplay at first, but, the more you think about it, the more it rings true. The Nobel laureate has perfectly encapsulated the differences between the two musicians in a way that only he can.
Wagner, who was a notorious trouble maker, is a bit of a Marmite. Everyone who knows him either admires or despises him. Pride, rude language, prodigality, prejudice and hatred were some of the words that described him, and he did not feel guilty for taking credit for others’ work. He was a nasty person. However, his music is still loved by so many people.
Chopin, on the other hand, seemed to have led a miserable life in many ways. Despite being unbelievably talented, he could not perform in front of a large audience because he was so shy. He never raised his voice, let alone used foul language, no matter how upset he was. He was not strong enough either to shake off a common cold or to play his own music powerfully. The songs he wrote were mostly short piano pieces, as opposed to songs for large operas or orchestras.
However, the short piano pieces were enough to make Chopin a respected composer. Loud music is great at stirring emotions in listeners, but this is why it can also be dangerous as it is often used for instigation and manipulation. Strong loud music can be powerful, but what heals and comforts people is quiet soft music.
This is not just limited to music. There is nothing that makes your heart pound more than the whispers of your lover. What about the sound of a sleeping baby that makes you calm? Something big and loud is not always good. Sometimes, something small and quiet can be more powerful.