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Field - Piano Music

John Field (1782-1837) was born in Dublin but later moved to London, where he made a very successful debut in 1794 and entered into an apprenticeship with Muzio Clementi. Clementi certainly gave his pupil excellent musical guidance, and secured his fame by introducing him to the wider world, but is also said to have treated Field more or less like a slave, in spite of the rather substantial sums he was paid by the boys parents.
In 1801 Clementi and Field travelled to Paris, where Field immediately made a name for himself as a great performer. His performances of some of Bach’s preludes and fugues were particularly admired for the precision and delicacy of his part-playing. From Paris, Field went on to travel in the rest of Europe. He settled in Russia, where he established himself as a highly appreciated piano teacher, first in St. Petersburg and then Moscow. Many of his students were wealthy Russian aristocrats, who provided Field with a substantial income. His lifestyle became rather extravagant, and his addiction to alcohol overwhelmed him.
After this, he became known to some of his former admirers as "Drunken John". In 1831 he became very ill and travelled back to London for medical attention. Field was reunited with his mother while in London, and he also had the opportunity to meet with Mendelssohn, Moscheles and others. This visit was followed by a long concert tour through France, Italy, and Vienna, where he was a guest of Czerny. He returned to Moscow in 1835.
Field composed seven piano concertos as well as many solo piano and chamber music works but his most famous works are the Nocturnes, which served as a model for Chopin´s pieces in the same genre. At a time when a lot of other pianists were exploiting the increasing power and range of the piano, Field kept cultivating its capability for intimate sounds and expressions.

Quotes
Hearing Liszt for the first time at a concert in Paris, Field asked his neighbour: "Does he bite?"

Asked on his deathbed by a priest what his religion was, Field answered: "I am a clavicist."

Louis Spohr about Clementi’s treatment of Field:
"Field had to play for hours to display the instrument to the best advantages of the purchasers. I still recall the figure of this pale, overgrown youth. (…) When Field, who had long outgrown his clothes, placed himself at the piano and stretched out his arms over the keyboard so that the sleeves shrunk up nearly to his elbows, his whole figure appeared awkward and stiff in the highest degree. "

English pianist Charles Salaman about Field’s style:
"Romantic and poetic, as if interpreting some beautiful dream, while in the singing quality of his touch, the infinite delicacy of his execution, and in his emotional expression, he was unrivalled in his day."

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Total pieces by Field: 18

TitleASTKey Published Type Level

18 Nocturnes:
Nocturne No. 1E-flat Major - Study 7
Nocturne No. 2C Minor - Study 8
Nocturne No. 3A-flat Major - Study 8
Nocturne No. 4A Major - Piece 8
Nocturne No. 5B-flat Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 6F Major - Piece 8
Nocturne No. 7C Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 8A Major - Piece 8
Nocturne No. 9E-flat Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 10E Minor - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 11E-flat Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 12G Major - Piece 8+
Nocturne No. 13D Minor - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 14C Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 15C Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 16F Major - Piece 7
Nocturne No. 17E Major - Piece 8+
Nocturne No. 18E Major - Piece 8


Posts in the piano forum about Field:

xx Re: john field
January 31, 2005, 06:18:58 PM by rafant

At last! A Field's fan! Cheesy I share your taste for his Nocturnes. I have the complete collection from Decca played wonderfully by Michael O'Rourke, and bought the Kalmus edition of the 18 Nocturnes. I don't have the sheet music with me right now, and can't quote the keys, but I enjoy very much the numbered 2, 3, 4, one in G Major and 2 or 3 more.
I find in Field's Nocturnes great lyricism, inspirated melodies, interesting musical ideas, although not always enough exploited nor developed. Sometimes the ending bars are too simply considering the beauty of the preceding piece, but it's a minor detail. Still it's great music and I'd like to hear it more in recitals.
Do you intend to play this pieces? I'm near to start the G Major one, which would be my first whole left-handed arpeggiatted piece.




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