Abstract

This article argues a perspective of musical narrative as an emplotment of expressive states rather than a sequence of actors and their actions, and offers a narrative analysis of Chopin's Fourth Ballade. The analysis embraces both hermeneutic and semiotic concerns by examining what this music means and how it signifies that meaning, and proposes a reading of the Fourth Ballade that situates it intertextually. I begin with a discussion of mimetic and diegetic properties of music and consider ways in which Chopin's ballades signify time, particularly the past tense often deemed crucial to narrative forms. I then expand Edward T. Cone's notion of apotheosis, showing how Chopin's larger works depend upon an emotionally transformed recapitulation of an interior theme that often represents a desired emotional state. After applying these theories of apotheosis and temporality to the Fourth Ballade, I conclude with a discussion of pastoral literary narratives and the ways they elucidate the expressive logic of this work.