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The same concept is true in music as reflected in the quote by Chopin. No matter how many notes, the challenge cannot be the focus. The complexity for the performer must not distract from the connection with the listener.

Chopin’s music is notoriously complex and difficult for the performer. Chopin’s piano pieces – all of his pieces involve the piano: he wrote no symphonies or operas – are lyrical, engaging, poetic and, therefore, seen as accessible. Yet the majority are also harmonically complex, technically challenging, and compositionally intricate.

But simplicity is necessary in order to connect, create relationships, and communicate.

A quote often attributed to Einstein is that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” A longer version of this, from a lecture he gave in 1933 is, “It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.”

Despite complexity and diversity, our goal is always to create connections and communicate. It requires that we continually refine understanding and language to ensure that everyone is engaged and able to participate: in music, theology, and life, “simplicity is the final achievement.”

May you discover moments of simplicity in this music and in this week.


ST#155 – Frederic Chopin