John Field

John Field was an Irish pianist, composer, and teacher. He was born in Dublin into a musical family and received his early education there. The Fields soon moved to London, where Field studied under Muzio Clementi. Under his tutelage, Field quickly became a famous and sought-after concert pianist; together, master and pupil visited Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg. The Russian capital impressed Field so much that he eventually decided to stay behind when Clementi left, and from about 1804 was particularly active in Russia.

Field was very highly regarded by his contemporaries, and his playing and compositions influenced many major composers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. He is best known today for originating the piano nocturne, a form later made famous by Chopin, as well as for his substantial contribution, through concerts and teaching, to the development of the Russian piano school.

Field became best known for his post-London style, probably developed in Moscow around 1807. The characteristic texture is that of a chromatically decorated melody over sonorous left hand parts supported by sensitive pedalling. Field also had an affinity for ostinato patterns and pedal points, rather unusual for the prevailing styles of the day. Entirely representative of these traits are Field's eighteen nocturnes and associated pieces such as Andante inedit, H 64. These works were some of the most influential music of the early Romantic period; they do not adhere to a strict formal scheme (such as the sonata form), and they create a mood without text or program. These pieces were admired by Frédéric Chopin, who subsequently made the piano nocturne famous, and Franz Liszt, who published an edition of the nocturnes based on rare Russian sources that incorporated late revisions by Field.