Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Contest Literature-Chopin Mazurka

Who is the composer and where is he from? Frédéric François Chopin (Polish: Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, sometimes Szopen; 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He was one of the great masters of Romantic music.

Chopin was born in the village of Żelazowa Wola, in the Duchy of Warsaw, to a French-expatriate father and Polish mother and was regarded as a child-prodigy pianist.In Paris, Chopin made a comfortable living as a composer and piano teacher, while giving few public performances. Though an ardent Polish patriot,in France he used the French versions of his names and eventually, to avoid having to rely on Imperial Russian documents, became a French citizen. After some ill-fated romantic involvements with Polish women, from 1837 to 1847 he had a turbulent relationship with the French authoress George Sand, (her pen name). Always in frail health, he died in Paris in 1849, aged thirty-nine, of pulmonary tuberculosis.

Chopin's compositions were written primarily for the piano as solo instrument. Though they are technically demanding, the emphasis in his style is on nuance and expressive depth. Chopin invented musical forms such as the instrumental ballade and was responsible for major innovations in the piano sonata, mazurka, waltz, nocturne, étude, impromptu and prélude.

What else have they written that we may already know or have heard? Some of Chopin's smaller preludes and waltzes may be in a student's repertoire. I suggest playing a more traditional mazurka or two before using this slow one as a competition piece.
What is the title? What does it mean?The mazurka (in Polish, mazurek) is a stylized Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo that has a heavy accent on the third or second beat. This is "one of Chopin's most evocative and melancholy themes, known mostly to pianists. It is almost a secret to other musicians or the public", according to Michael Glenn Williams.
What time period is it from? romantic
What about this piece do you like? Chopin's works are usually very weighty, meaningful, deep. And most that I've heard have elements of melancholy.
What sounds challenging? I see many small notes not lining up with the Left Hand.

The first video is the famous pianist, Vladimir Horowitz and the music follows along below the clip! The next video is a musical response to Vladimir's playing. Both are interesting musically and watch their differences in technique! Look at wrists, fingers, and fingering! Which one do you prefer?


  1. This is static-y, but oh so musical:


  2. Chopin is one of my favourite composers and I happen to have his biography amongst the books I always re-read. It's funny that one of the styles by which he was widely known, the nocturne, was not his creation but an Irish composer's, John Field. And yet Chopin made this genre his completely. Many thanks for such a fabulous post.

    Greetings from London.

  3. Oh, PianoGirlAnn, what a lovely Paderewski version. I also liked the comments on that site very much. "Mazurka it is not nokturne -must be optimistic",brilliant. I would say that Horowitz was not necessarily as optimistic as sentimental...

    The other quote "he was 52 years old recording that, maybe that is the life he lived that mirrored in this expression, maybe even more, maybe the sufferings of his nation and his family. He had experienced so much of the emotions, that somebody who didn't experience this cannot really comprehend it," expresses a glimpse of trying to teach this piece to a 16-17 year old. What of life experiences, then?

    Hi Cuban! Loved your post on Sunday, btw!


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