Chopin's initials embellish the gate at The Hermitage -- formerly the Museum of the Chopin Festival -- where, in the summer of 1826, the Chopin family came to the spa at Duszniki "to take the waters." Photo courtesy Hanna Komarnicki

This Polonaise comes from the pen of already “mature” Chopin, almost 18 years old. The musical material here bears some similarity to the themes of his Concerti. This work is less showy and less virtuosic than the Op. 71. No. 2, composed around the same time. The manner of its opening is meditative, its melodies not dancelike, and its mood dignified. The characteristic rhythm of the polonaise doesn’t appear until later in the work, and then almost without a melody, as if to emphasize the solemnity and weight of the Polonaise as a dance step.

But wait — in the middle section we hear melodies that are both ardent and lyrical, and the element of a dance is relegated to the background. In this very section there also appear glimpses of virtuosity in a form of brilliant figurations, as if Chopin didn’t want us to forget his true prankish nature.