Frederic Chopin will be remembered for acquiring a reputation as a pianist of the highest-ranking with the lowest public appearances–just about 30 in his lifetime. His original and sensitive approach to the keyboard allowed him to exploit all the resources of the piano of his day. Born in 1810, no one before Chopin would have understood the true nature of the piano as an expressive instrument, due to his use of the pedals, innovations in fingering and his general treatment of the keyboard which are etched in the history of the piano; his works setting the benchmark for the instrument that is revered as unbeatable.
Known for his unique originality, imagination and craftsmanship, Chopin’s works for solo piano include about 61 mazurkas, 26 preludes, 27 études, 21 nocturnes, 20 waltzes, 16 polonaises, 3 sonatas, 4 ballades, 4 scherzos, 4 impromptus, along with numerous individual pieces—like the Barcarolle, Opus 60 (1846); the Fantasia, Opus 49 (1841); and the Berceuse, Opus 57 (1845)—as also 17 Polish songs. The most accomplished of these works – the B minor Sonata, the Op.55 Nocturnes and the Op.56 Mazurkas—represent an unimaginable refinement and complexity. You can find Chopin touching peaks of inspiration in the opening movement of the sonata, integrating turbulence and romantic pining into a wonderful seamless expression.
Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 is a popular piece from his “Nocturne” compositions. Nocturnes are compositions that are inspired by the night and its tranquillity. The piece begins in a slow melodic manner and intensifies with tension towards the end of the second half which eventually resolves to a melodic end.
While it is acknowledged that his output was small and confined to piano, what is remarkable is that within its limited framework, Chopin’s range is considered diverse covering every variety of musical expression. Yes, Chopin could have contributed more had he not wasted considerable time delighting the Parisian aristocracy, which upset critics who evaluated artistic worth in terms of the scale of achievement. But he was unrelenting in exploring colourful new passagework and technical figures.
It was his deep perception into the secret places of the heart, as also insights of the hypnotic new sonorities that could be sourced from the piano, that places Chopin among the music immortals of all times. Due to his advanced treatment of harmony & rhythm, his luminous textures & haunting melodies, and the harmonic question marks in his music, every Chopin creation has intrigued generations of pianists.
The Fantaisie Impromptu in C♯ minor Op. posth. 66 which was published posthumously is an example of a piece that takes the listener on a journey with a combination of melodic, expressive and sonorous phrases.
A thought-provoking quote of Chopin: “Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art”.