The novel opens and closes with Tom playing one of Chopin’s Preludes; at a family gathering he also plays Chopin’s ‘Minute Waltz’. The story also includes William playing the Adagio Cantabile from Beethoven’s Pathetique Piano Sonata. Music is the universal language that knows no barriers to age, race or nationality; these piano pieces play a significant role in Two Trees.
Frederic Chopin was born in March 1810 in Poland and died in October 1849 in Paris. The Preludes were written between 1835 and 1839 and were partly composed in Majorca where Chopin was staying with his mistress George Sand. The Minute Waltz was composed in 1847.
‘Tom declared that he was going to play one of Chopin’s Preludes. Hannah was not sure what a prelude was but if today was the start of something positive she was happy with that.’ (Two Trees: Chapter Thirty-Six)
Tom: ‘I am going to play a piece by Chopin and I have deliberately chosen the Minute Waltz…..we do not want this war to go on for a minute longer than necessary…’ (Two Trees: Chapter Five)
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in December 1770 in Bonn and died in March 1827 in Vienna. He composed the Piano Sonata Pathetique in 1798 at the age of 27 and it was published in 1799. Beethoven was German but much admired in Britain.
‘For almost five minutes there was no movement, no sound and no eye contact between any members of the family. William’s gentle and sensitive interpretation of the Adagio Cantabile from Beethoven’s Pathetique Piano Sonata brought stillness to the souls of all those present, including the children. Even when William had finished the piece, there was a moment of complete silence.’ (Two Trees: Chapter Five)