John Field (1782-1837), the Irish composer, pianist, and teacher, is credited with developing the solo piano nocturne. His music and pianistic style influenced a later generation of composers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. Born in Dublin, Field gave his first performance at the age of 9 and rose to prominence as a prodigy. In his writings, Haydn noted “Field a young boy, which plays the pianoforte Extremely well.” In 1802 he resettled in Russia, where briefly he taught Mikhail Glinka.
Among Field’s compositions are eighteen Nocturnes. This is serene music of the evening in which a melody floats above arpeggiated left hand accompaniment. In his publication of the Nocturnes, Liszt wrote, poetically,
None have quite attained to these vague aeolian harmonies, these half- formed sighs floating through the air, softly lamenting and dissolved in delicious melancholy. Nobody has even attempted this peculiar style and especially none of those who heard Field play himself, or rather who heard him dream his music in moments when he entirely abandoned himself to his inspiration.
This performance of the Nocturne No. 5 in B-flat Major, H. 37 features the American pianist, Elizabeth Joy Roe:
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- Field: Nocturne No. 5 in B-flat Major, H. 37, Elizabeth Joy Roe Amazon
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