Kickstarting a free, open archive of recordings of all of Chopin


Cory, you choose good Kickstarters.

1 Like

Uhm. Free and open is fine, but good performances and recordings is arguably is more important – otherwise, you might as well just preserve the sheet music.

If it isn’t a performance worth listening to, it isn’t worth archiving. And I’m really not convinced it’s worth video, especially given recent evidence that when we can see the performer our reaction is often strongly affected by performance skills other than musical skills.

Toward that end, the more performances/recordings the better… but it feels to me like the priorities of this particular project are backward. Preservation is barely an issue for this music.


I have crappy internet at my SO’s house, so I haven’t seen the video. However, this is pretty cool. I think writ large, it would be kind of variable. Just like LibriVox. Some of the recordings–maybe even most–will be amateurish and annoying but many will stand out as being on par with professional versions.

In any case, freeing culture from the grasps of the excessively monied is a sweet sweet thing. More of this kind of thing, please, universe.


I have only had time to sample some of the previous recordings mentioned and they have been excellent so far. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra is very good as well as all the other performers I have heard so far. This is a well down collection not amateur hour.

1 Like

I’m all for open recordings of the great classics. That said, if you’re interested in orchestral works, you’d better listen to Musopen’s previous efforts first. -Maybe- hearing Schubert’s Unfinished performed by a high-school orchestra isn’t something you want to invest in.

It’s not that Musopen’s work is amatuer hour; it’s more that these performances are relatively context-less in the ongoing conversation of Chopin interpretations established by recordings from Ashkenazy, Pollini, Zimmerman, Arrau, Rubinstein, Perahia, Cziffra, Lipatti, Moravec, Wild, Weissenberg, etc. This project seems fantastic for educational and encyclopedic uses, but for “serious” listening/collecting I’d rather focus on those recordings that have already earned the attention of many thousands of informed ears.

These new Musopen performances may well win regard as top interpretations someday, but in the meantime there’s plenty of great stuff available right now – the 11-disc Rubinstein set for $20; The 17-disc DG set is $52, and features Pollini, Zimmerman, Arrau, and more. The 5-disc Ultimate Chopin set at $14 includes the Nocturnes and Ballades performed by Ashkenazy; there’s many other bargains like these. (Can’t resist mentioning: if you like Chopin the Lesser – aka Scriabin – here’s a wonderful 8-disc set of piano works played by Maria Lettberg, for only $22.50.)


That’s sorta where I’m coming from.

  1. There really are no shortage of good recordings of good performances of any Chopin composition. Makes investing sight unseen somewhat questionable. It’s unclear that a mediocre human performance is actually a lot better than nothing.

  2. There is no particular reason to believe that recordings of Chopin pieces are going to become hard to find, or overpriced, in the future. There’s no shortage of interest, and no shortage of sheet music. Heck, I’m seeing a huge resurgence of interest in classical and “early” music.

  3. If your concern is that the music industry is becoming overly focused on pop and other high-profit areas… the way to fix that would seem to be to start a publishing house, not a recording house. Or to simply support the publishing houses which already paint a wide swath into the less-charted areas, and to enter into a dialog with them if you think there’s something they’re missing.

I don’t feel a need to support it based on the arguments they’ve advanced. There are better places, and reasons, to invest.


Aaron from Musopen writing.

Just keep in mind the goal is not to have yet another set of Chopin. The goal is to have a public domain set of his music, ideally while I’m still alive.

Yes, all the great recordings will probably be in the public domain, but it will be many decades, and that is only if copyright terms don’t continue to be extended.

The goal is to ensure a high quality set exists now, so people can enjoy and make use of it. In 1-200 years, I hope Musopen will be hosting Rubinstein and Horowitz along with everything else.


Musopen is community supported, so yes there will be recordings from all types of performers. The ones they raise money for, however, are recorded by professional musicians not high schools.

Just remember, a cheap set is not the same as an “open” one. Just ask someone that needs music for an art project but doesn’t want to risk being sued. Or is making a video and doesn’t want Youtube to challenge and pull it down.


True, open is a different matter. I don’t feel a great need to support open recordings of Chopin; it’s out of copyright, find a pianist friend or hire a bunch of students. Not as if this is something which needs to be copyfought.

Your mileage will vary.

1 Like

That’s exactly what we’re doing, though in our case we’re aiming for a bit better than a bunch of students.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.