According to Wikipdia, a Contra Danse was an English folk dance incorporating two long rows of partners facing and moving towards or away from each other. At the end of the 17th century, these dances (then known as English country dances) were taken up by French dancers leading to hybrid choreographies. The French first called them contra-dance or contredanse. Usually set in 2/4 or 6/8 meter, the dances spread and over time were reinterpreted throughout the Western world. Eventually the French form of the name (following the erroneous belief that its genesis was French) came to be associated with American folk dances, especially in New England, where they have managed to survive.
The Contredanse in G-flat major, attributed to Chopin, was not discovered and published until 1934. This was more than 107 years after it was composed (at age 17). Though not subject to current debate, some speculation still exists as to its authenticity because the only remaining autograph (dated 1827) was not Chopin’s; the work is nevertheless believed by many to have come from Chopin’s pen.
It is a charming miniature though rarely performed, an engaging encore whose authorship may, especially in this bicentennial year, engage the attention of a youthful listener intent on solving a musical mystery.
Listen Now to Chopin Project performer, Dmitri Vorobiev play this Chopin rarity. Then, please participate in the experiment, explained below:
The Experiment: Start the YouTube video but turn the YouTube volume down so you can’t hear it at all. While you’re watching the now silent YouTube video, watch it through while listening to the Chopin Contredanse. Please send us a comment about your experience.