Ancient trees at Nohant Manor from "Chopin's Europe" courtesy Hanna Komarnicki

The first of this group of three mazurkas, in the key of  B Major, was conceived in Nohant in 1846, and begins with a defiant theme, a real mold of Mazur as played by country musicians in some village tavern. The character changes with the second theme and from then on the mazurka oscillates between these two contrasting moods. Those moods could also be regarded as musical illustrations of two contrasting characters: it seems to me very often that in his mazurkas, more than anywhere else, Chopin portrays the male and female character either in conversation or on a dance floor of a tavern. Here the second theme is a vivid description of a dancer’s stomping feet, with a characteristic accent on the last beat.

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.

Nohant Manor -- Garden Entry from "Chopin's Europe" courtesy MUZA SA, Image copyright 2010 Hanna and Juliusz Komarnicki

As we know, Chopin, like Mozart and Beethoven before him, and Liszt among his contemporaries, was one of the greatest improvisers before the public. How his improvisations sounded, either public or private, in the darkness of his music salon, we will never know. It always seems to me that the closest we will ever come to hearing his musings at the piano is this single five minute Prelude, composed in 1841 in Nohant, and assigned the separate opus number 45. Sending his copyist, Julian Fontana, his manuscript (neither the autograph nor Fontana’s copy are extant), Chopin attached a note that this time (unlike in the case of the Tarantella, Op. 43) expressed a rarely shown satisfaction: “it is well modulated, isn’t it?” In this constant stream of modulations, with no specific form, the main theme and the accompaniment are intertwined. Toward the end comes a cadenza, with double notes in both hands, that a lead to an ecstatic culmination. The opening theme then reappears, and the piece dies away. Its character could be mistaken for that of a nocturne. The work was dedicated to one of Chopin’s female students, Countess Elizabeth Czernyszew. It is puzzling that this marvelous work is performed relatively rarely, although it almost invariably appears in complete recordings of the preludes. It might be worth noting that this work was a obligatory composition during the Fifth International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1955.

Chopin Project Via The Educational Channel

The premiere of The Chopin Project on The Education Channel will be cablecast tonight, March 7th at 5PM Eastern Time (22:00 GMT).  Month-long live streaming is available for convenient access anywhere via this SCHEDULE.

The Chopin Project Special, produced by the Education Channel through the stewardship of the Sarasota County School Board, is original programming highlighting The Chopin Project® — as it celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Fryderyk Chopin. The one hour documentary highlights the educational outreach component of Chopin Project’s mission to carry the music of the Polish master to young people everywhere. The program was designed as an integral part of the multi-concert Sarasota Chopin Festival presented last November by The Artist Series of Sarasota and The Chopin Project.

The Chopin Project Special showcases Chopin’s music presented to Booker Middle and Booker VPA High School students in Sarasota through live performances, a young people’s lecture and imagery from Chopin’s Europe.

Watch the Video Here

Daniel Rodriguez was a photojournalist for the Colombian daily newspaper El Espectador from 1936-66. His work, nearly all in black and white, is known for its beauty and simplicity. It shows a face of Colombian culture transporting the viewer on a nostalgic journey full of contrasts. Chopin’s Mazurka in F Minor, Op. 63 No. 2 performed by Polina Khatsko establishes the tone for our introduction to the photographic works of this Colombian master.

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Watch the Recital Video Here

Enjoy this very rare kinescope of a recital by William Kapell; and especially the second piece, Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 55 No. 2 (1835) appearing from 3′ 28″ to 8′ 14.” This extraordinary rendering from Alistair Cooke’s “Omnibus” series (CBS-TV) was recorded live March 15, 1953 at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. This is the only known video of any performance by Kapell who died tragically seven months later, and was mourned by the musical illuminati of the time. We also suggest a wonderful three part tribute to Kapell here:  Part 1; Part 2; and Part 3.

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Copyright 2010 Hanna and Juliusz Komarnicki

“Sometimes, through the window which opens onto the garden, strands of melody waft upwards from Chopin, and mingle with the songs of nightingales and the fragrance of roses. He never stops working.”

This from Eugene Delacroix to a friend, (from Nohant, June 7, 1842), may only hint at the precision that belies what seems often from Chopin to be pure improvisation.

Listen now to Chopin Project pianist, Olga Kleiankina bring these contrasting sensibilities to the first of three Mazurkas from Opus 56.

Historic Asolo Theatre at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota

From November 12-16, 2010  The Artist Series of Sarasota in association with The Chopin Project will proudly present concerts, films and special events as part of the international celebration of the Fryderyk Chopin Year.

The programs will feature six acclaimed Chopin Project pianists: Arthur Greene, Dmitri Vorobiev, Xiaofeng Wu, Olga Kleiankina, Svetlana Smolina and Maxim Mogilevsky; and two guest soloists, cellist Abraham Feder, and soprano Hein Jung.

Click here for ticket information.

In brief:

Friday, Nov. 12 – 7:30PM: Opening performance and reception — Arthur Greene in solo recital featuring Chopin’s Four Ballades at the beautiful USF Sarasota-Manatee Rotunda;

Saturday, Nov. 13 – 2PM: A screening of the 1945 Academy Award winning Chopin biography “A Song to Remember.” Historic Asolo Theatre;

Saturday, Nov. 13 — 7:30PM: “An Evening with the Artists” – Live performance, conversation, and a festive Polish themed dinner, at a unique Sarasota residence.

Sunday, Nov. 14 — 2PM: “Chopin’s Europe” — Historic Asolo Theatre – Concert and multi-media presentation with Chopin Project pianists performing Chopin rarities and favorites – with full-stage images from the new book, “Chopin’s Europe” depicting the regions in Europe where Chopin lived, loved and composed – with live narration.

Sunday & Tuesday, Nov. 14 and 16 – 7:30PM – Historic Asolo Theatre – “Chopin: Favorites and Rarities” — 2 different programs featuring all six Chopin Project pianists.

Monday, Nov. 15 – 7:30PM – Sarasota Opera House: Chopin Spectacular: More Favorites and Rarities.  Six Chopin Project pianists and guest soloists, soprano Hein Jung and cellist, Abraham Feder.

NC State's Dr. Olga Kleiankina

Raleigh, North Carolina One of the most exciting projects new faculty pianist Olga Kleiankina brought with her to her job at NC State is her involvement in The Chopin Project. Since its genesis at the University of Michigan, the Chopin Project is devoted to exploring the entirety of Fryderyk Chopin’s works for solo piano online and in live performance. And in this bicentennial year of his birth, Chopin’s music will take center stage as part of the Faculty and Guest Recital roster of Music@NCState October 15-17, featuring Arthur Greene, Dmitri Vorobiev, and Svetlana Smolina with the Music Department’s own Olga Kleiankina.

The Festival’s two recitals taking place at Stewart Theatre (Sat. Oct 16 at 7PM and Sun, Oct 17 at 4PM) features the most beloved works by Chopin, from miniatures — such as waltzes, nocturnes and mazurkas — to major works including Ballades, Preludes and Sonatas. Purchase tickets here.

In collaboration with Ruggero Piano, the artists will also present a Benefit Concert for the Artist of Tomorrow Scholarship Fund and a free master class that focuses on Chopin’s works. Read more here.

Visit Chateau Sarzay with Madame Sand and Fryderyk Chopin while listening to his Mazurka in A-flat Major, Op. 59, No. 2, composed at nearby Nohant Manor in 1845.

Many of the photographs provided by Hanna and Juliusz Komarnicki from their beautifully crafted “Chopin’s Europe” and employed in our video by James De Mauro and Evelyn Bless, depict just what the couple would have seen during their walk to and from Sarzay.

Share the sights, the history and especially the music at once described by Klindworth as “entrancing”; by Huneker as “noble”; and by Hadow, as “perhaps the most exquisitely tuneful and graceful of all his Mazurkas.”

These adjectives have also been used to describe the musical sensibility Arthur Greene brings to this studio performance of Chopin’s Mazurka in A-flat Major, Op. 59, No. 2.

Click the image anywhere to watch/listen:

CHOPIN'S EUROPE SMALL AMAZON Purchase here: Chopin’s Europe: A Photographic Essay

Purchase the Chopin Project iPhone App (now with 25 titles)

Always a favorite, now a rarity. This just released Chopin Project single performed by William Kapell gold medalist, Arthur Greene, is an unusual edition of one of Chopin’s most beloved compositions, his Nocturne in E-flat Major, Op. 9, No. 2.

So why is it rare? Chopin marked up some of his scores for his piano students which have been fascinating for musicologists to examine. He sometimes added fingerings and other instructions. And occasionally, as here, he added extra notes and even special cadenzas. So . . . listen closely if you know this piece and you’ll hear some lovely original additions by Monsieur Chopin himself.

The complete Opus 9 was originally published as “Les Murmures de la Seine” and dedicated to the wife of Chopin’s friend Camille Pleyel. Marie Pleyel is the woman pictured in the cameo on the album cover.

In celebration of the six month anniversary of Chopin’s 200th birthday, we are offering it as a free download until September 1, 2010.

Want to hear the pleading eloquence of Chopin’s Opus 63 Mazurka in C-sharp Minor — at the place where it was composed? Watch this video!

The Chopin Project is proud to present the first in a series of short videos that show you where Chopin lived while creating his magnificent music. This episode focuses on Nohant Manor, the country home of Mme George Sand. Hear a musical gem performed by Polina Khatsko, see photos of Nohant Manor and read about manor life. The story is based on the book Chopin’s Europe by Hanna and Juliusz Komarnicki and Pamela and Iwo Zaluski.

CHOPIN'S EUROPE SMALL AMAZON Order the book here: Chopin’s Europe: A Photographic Essay

Download Chopin Project release: Mazurka in C-sharp Minor, Op. 63 No. 3

A beautiful and moving video that brings to life Chopin’s early years in 19th century Warsaw. You see where the young “Frycek” lived and hear details of his family, friends, personality and musical progress. Produced by the City of Warsaw, the video interweaves scenes from past and present, the effect showing you how Chopin’s story and city, like his music, live on today.

Hexameron Image

Princess Cristina Belgiojoso, Underwriter of Hexameron

When Vincenzo Bellini, a great composer of bel canto opera and one of Chopin’s musical idols died in 1835, a group of pianist-composers in Bellini’s circle chose to honor him by writing a set of six variations on a march from the last of his operas, “Il Puritani.”

The six friends were coaxed into this project by Princess Cristina Trivulzio Belgiojoso, and led by Franz Liszt, who contributed a substantial part of this nearly twenty minute long collection. The Princess, who adored Bellini, is pictured here and is separately a subject of extraordinary interest as a Parisian-exiled Italian heiress, a music loving society celeb, feminist, author, social activist and political revolutionary, teacher and pioneer.

The Hexameron was not a new musical instrument come to market in the 1830’s. Though of biblical genesis, the title for this homage to Bellini was named Hexameron rather for the six separate components of this collaborative work. There had been a longstanding legend that at one time all the pianists were gathered in the salon of the enterprising Princess, to perform the variations on six pianos; but as an acclaimed exponent of this difficult work, pianist Raymond Lewenthal reflected in his comments on Hexameron, it would have been wonderful if that had occurred, but there’s not an iota of confirmation.

Bellini Image

Vincenzo Bellini

Other than Liszt, composers of Hexameron were Sigismund Thalberg, Johann Peter Pixis, Henri Herz, Carl Czerny and finally Fryderyk Chopin. About fifteen years earlier, a similar type of multi-composer project bore a set of fifty variations written by fifty composers on a theme of Diabelli. This theme also inspired Beethoven, who independently created a magnificent set of thirty-three variations, Op. 120 (Diabelli Variations), which became one of his crowning acheivements.

In Hexameron we hear mostly virtuosic, bravura variations. Perhaps predictably Chopin’s contribution is of a different nature, as it offers the listener a rare moment of reflection. In Chopin’s hand, Bellini’s theme is intoned as largo (slow) and his dynamics are sotto-voce (soft), accompanied by nocturne-like left hand playing and rising and falling two-note chords. The only change of mood takes place in the middle of the variation, when more dramatic, sharper rhythms and fuller dynamics break the climate of meditation.


Today’s Chopin Project posting features “Chopin’s Europe,” a just released hardbound photographic essay of all the places Chopin lived, loved, played and composed through the four decades of his life — some familiar, some rarely published, others newly discovered.

With a Foreward by Martha Argerich, the innovative format of “Chopin’s Europe” tells his story more from a geographical point of view and less as a chronological restatement of fact.

Concise but comprehensive text by acclaimed Chopin biographers Iwo and Pamela Zaluski, together with highly evocative and personal photographs taken by Hanna Komarnicki and painstakingly curated by her husband Juliusz,  “Chopin’s Europe” really does bring to life the beauties, moods and aspects of Chopin’s continent, from remote Poturzyn in the sub-Ukrainian hinterland, to the wild beauties of Majorca to the mist-swathed Highland of Scotland.

Some news: “Chopin’s Europe” will be presented to the Chopin Society, UK on Sunday May 2 following a 3:30PM recital by Martin Kasik at St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.

Watch a  slide show here:

CHOPIN'S EUROPE SMALL AMAZON Purchase here: Chopin’s Europe: A Photographic Essay

Chopin Project Player

Lutz, Florida – The Chopin Project® today announced the initial release of 20 exclusive new recordings, including many Chopin rarities via The Chopin Project® iPhone App from the Apple® iTunes Store. The Chopin Project® App offers a growing discography of new studio recordings from the Chopin Project® Listening Library.

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Watch the Video Tribute Here

Tribute to Chopin

'Tributo a Chopin' 80 x 36 Oil on Canvass ©Camargo Vilardy, 2009. Photo courtesey of Angela Bustamonte (c) 2009

Today’s posting embodies a grand fusion of the 19th century music of Fryderyk Chopin and the visual expression of twenty-first century Colombian sculptor and painter, Carlos Camargo Vilardy, whose love for Chopin’s music provided enormous impulse for the enterprise.

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©Barbara Kerstetter

Self-appraisals are often too charitable; at other times, too critical. “I hope I won’t write anything as dreadful too soon.” Those were Chopin’s words about his own Tarantella in A-flat Major, Opus 43 (1841). Was there justification for his remark?

The Tarantella belongs to Chopin’s occasional compositions, such as Bolero and Berceuse — in other words, works he never revisited. We don’t know what prompted Chopin to compose it. It was probably not a commission from some publisher. We know Chopin adored the opera and was very fond of Bellini and Rossini. Possibly in his Tarantella he simply attempted to follow in Rossini’s footsteps by writing an instrumental work that was of a vocal provenance. He knew Rossini’s “La Danza” and indicated that fact in a letter instructing his composer-friend and copyist, Julian Fontana [to] “. . . check in Rossini’s collection, if his Tarantella is in 6/8 meter or 12/8.”

Thus as a typical composition of that genre, Chopin’s Tarantella is from beginning to end played “in one breath,” without a moment of rest. It has four different segments, not really varied, which might be a reason the work attained rather poor marks. The best “compliment” in defense of this miniature (giving new meaning to the work lukewarm) came from Arthur Hedley, a noted musicologist and Chopin  authority, proclaiming “the frantic character of the music is captured fine, except that without the Italian gaiety.”

The sentiments of Chopin and Hedley are certainly not universal. By popular demand, the folks in the great state of Iowa in America’s heartland, have requested an encore statewide Iowa Public Radio broadcast of Chopin Project pianist, Dmitri Vorobiev’s live performance of Tarantella in A-flat.

Listen to the performance and to Mr. Vorobiev’s discussion of Tarantella with host Jacqueline Halbloom on “Performance Iowa” Sunday April 4th at 1PM CDT



Iowa Public Radio’s brand new performance series, “PERFORMANCE IOWA” premiers tonight in celebration of Chopin’s 200th Birthday.

Host Jacqueline Halbloom presents Dmitri Vorobiev, Chopin Project pianist and UNI Assistant Professor of Music in live performance of two Chopin rarities: Tarantella in A-flat Major, Op. 43 (1841) and Allegro de Concert, Op. 46 (1834-41). Pianist Ksenia Nosikova, Associate Professor of Piano of University of Iowa will play pieces by Liszt and Schumann, each in honor of the composers’ association with Chopin in this Bicentennial year.

“PERFORMANCE IOWA” aspires to bring listeners closer to the music by including the views and observations of the performers.

Tonight’s performances will be broadcast live state-wide on Iowa Public Radio Classical frequencies. Listen at 7PM Central DT (00:00:00 UCT/GMT). A link to open the live player can be found at:

then click the “listen online” link at the top of the page.


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.

Acclaimed Chopin Project pianist Svetlana Smolina will play Chopin’s Twenty-four Preludes, Op. 28 as part of her performance tomorrow at 4:30PM (Friday, March 5th) at the Winter Garden main stage in New York’s World Financial Center. Ms Smolina is among the virtuosi performing in the 200 hour Wall Street marathon celebrating the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth.

Svetlana Smolina

Chopin once wrote, “When one does a thing, it appears good, otherwise one would not write it. Only later comes reflection, and one discards or accepts the thing. Time is the best censor, and patience a most excellent teacher.”Upon further reflection, Chopin must have realized that this Waltz was an all-time keeper, a favorite of piano virtuosos and amateurs alike since Chopin’s own time. It was a notable favorite of Artur Rubinstein. In fact, the Chopin.Net site has a nice anecdote about Rubinstein:

When people asked him how he could continue to play the same waltz for over 75 years, he replied, “Because it’s not the same, and I don’t play it the same way.”

The Bicentennial Edition

Presenting Chopin Project Audio Player and Chopin Planet:

With excitement and gratitude for Fryderyk Chopin’s music, we celebrate his 200th Birthday by introducing our newest feature – The Chopin Project Audio Player. Click the red “Listen Now” button and music will play. Click on a different title and it will (or should) play. Make a Playlist. Sort by Genre, Key and Year. Have some fun with it. Let us know what you think and how we can improve it.

Now that Chopin’s music is playing, enjoy a captivating view of the Global Community of Chopin Year Celebrants with Chopin Planet. Click the center of the spinning globe to activate a more complete visual experience. (If your browser isn’t responsive, try Firefox).The lights represent the cities of all visitors to the site during the past few months or so; the pulsing red lights represent current visitors, including you.

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Arthur Greene:

“Today’s entry takes us into far more familiar Chopin territory. The Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 No. 2 comes from around 1830, -after Chopin had left Warsaw forever. But the version I’m playing here has a bit of a twist. There are some scores of Chopin’s works that he marked up for his piano students, and they’ve been a fascinating find for musicologists. You can see where he marked things on the scores, adding fingerings and other instructions for his students. And in some of them Chopin added extra notes – and even little cadenzas! So if you know this beloved Nocturne, listen extra closely, and you’ll hear some things that aren’t usually there.”

From Britton Recital Hall, listen to Arthur Greene perform Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Op. 9 No. 2 (original cadenzas)

Today’s brand new edition of American Public Media’s Performance Today features Chopin Project Artistic Director, Arthur Greene‘s live performance of “Three Ecossaises,”  Opus 72, in the program’s first hour.  

Performance Today is broadcast on 245 public radio stations across the country and reaches 1.1 million listeners each week. Since each station decides what time to air the program, the most direct route to hear the show is the Performance Today website (Program Archive June 1, 2009) until Tuesday, June 7th. 

On an earlier Performance Today program, host Fred Child, described the Chopin Project as

“. . . working towards being a comprehensive site of information about and music by, Frederic Chopin: lots of audio, lots of news bits, and . . . even a Chopin quotepage!. This is kind of Wikipedia-style project and they’re inviting YOUR feedback and YOUR information as well. “

We thank you for your comments! 

“One is loath to believe that the echo of Chopin’s magic music can ever fall upon unheeding ears.  He may become old-fashioned, but, like Mozart, he will remain eternally beautiful.”

Even for a piece barely more than a minute in length, the “eternally beautiful” Chopin cited by writer and pianist james Huneker (author of the definitive book Chopin: The Man and his Music) is evident in this brief Cantabile.    This little gem often turns up folios and other albums devoted to 19th-century miniatures, though it didn’t actually appear in print until 1931, nearly 100 years after Chopin compoosed it.

Cantabile, after all, is defined as “to sing or play in a sweetly singing manner.”  See if you don’t think that’s exactly what Chopin Project Pianist Noel McRobbie does in this performance…

Chopin Project Artistic Director Arthur Greene calls Chopin’s last nocturne a curious, but moving, work:

“It is rarely played.  Its absolute simplicity of texture may lead performers to experiment with ornamentation, but I believe that it is an expression of Chopin’s new direction, in the difficult few years at the end of his life, towards a directness and purity of expression.  The Polonaise-Fantasy has somewhat the same mood, although it is much more elaborate.  The little nocturne is a tragic whisper.”

Chopin Biographer Arthur Hedley once wrote: “From the great Italian singers of the age [Chopin] learned the art of ‘singing’ on the piano, and his nocturnes reveal the perfection of his cantabile style and delicate charm of ornamentation.”

Recent scholarship by some musicologists hear the song of a sorrowful Venetian gondolier (borrowed from Italian opera composer Giaocchino Rossini, whom Chopin greatly admired) in the undulating Nocturne in C minor, the 21st and final essay in the genre that Chopin perfected. It dates from 1847, just two years before Chopin’s death, but was not published until decades later.

Wessel Edition Cover page: Chopin\'s Impromptu No. 2 For years one of the knocks on Chopin’s music is that he was a “ladies’ composer,” spinning out his piano pieces for the sighing, swooning denizens of Parisan salons, the result being that his remarkable compositions were often trivialized or marginalized.

According to the Cambridge Companion to Chopin, the composer hated the association:

“Chopin enjoyed elegant feminine company, but he had harsh views of the fawning of his ‘adoring women.’ He himself used the phrase ‘music for the ladies’, but unhappily he meant it disparagingly. Another association with the salon was the ‘sentimental drawing room composer” – the ‘superficial genius’ – and the appellation was encouraged by a self-imposed limitation of meidum, but the connotations of small forms, and by the description titles assigned to his music by publishers…”

One publisher in particular who drew Chopin’s ire was a London-based German entrepreneur named Christian Rudolph Wessel. As you can see by the cover page, above, (courtesy of the fantastic Chopin Early Editions site at the University of Chicago) the publisher issued Chopin’s marvelous Impromptu No. 2 in a series he called “Les Agrémans au Salon” — loosely translated as “Drawing-Room Trifles.” With “friends” like that….

Nowadays, Chopin’s Impromptus are a robust staple of the concert hall. Hear pianist Noel McRobbie perform Chopin’s Impromptu No. 2 in F-sharp Major, Op. 36, in a concert performance at the University of Michigan’s Britton Recital Hall.

Download the sheet music from the Piano Society web site.

Today’s edition of Performance Today – the most popular classical-music show in the USA – will feature a performance from The Chopin Project: Chih-Long Hu‘s live interpretation of Chopin’s Waltz in A-flat, Op. 69, no. 1 “L’Adieu”

Produced and distributed by American Public Media, Performance Today is broadcast on 245 public radio stations across the country and is heard by about 1.1 million people each week. Each station individually decides what time to air the program. You’ll also be able to hear the show on the Performance Today website (Program Archive July 9, 2008) until Tuesday, July 15th.

Noel McRobbie“In his Mazurkas, you get to know the very soul of Poland and Chopin never forgot his home land or the poor farmers singing the Mazurkas during the time of harvest.” All right, the Piano Society‘s prose on Chopin’s 58 Mazurkas may be a bit purple, but it does appear that the Mazurkas are close to Chopin’s Polish soul. Esteemed pianist and scholar Charles Rosen has also declared the Mazurkas as Chopin’s “R & D Lab” – where some of the composer’s boldest harmonic experiments can be found.

Although this sprightly and march-like Mazurka in C major dates from Chopin’s younger years, (see this posting to discover what the “KK” designation means), it wasn’t published until 1870. The original published score (above) comes from the excellent Chopin Early Editions site maintained by the University of Chicago.

Hear pianist Noel McRobbie perform Chopin’s Mazurka No. 56 in C major in concert at the University of Michigan’s Britton Recital Hall.

Decades before Maurice Ravel came along, Chopin also found inspiration in the old Spanish dance known as the Bolero, defined as “A Spanish dance and song, in moderate tempo and triple metre, popular at the end of the 18th century and throughout the 19th, often performed with guitar and castenets.” In fact, the Spanish Bolero was rythmically related to the polonaise of Chopin’s native country, and even Beethoven wrote a Bolero a solo … it’s one of his minor “without Opus” works, WoO 158.

Regardless of origin or inspiration, it’s one of Chopin’s more unusual works, dating from 1833. He tacked on an Introduction in C major that serves as an evocative attention-getter that sets up the uniquely Spanish-Polish Bolero that follows.

Xiaofeng Wu

Hear pianist Xiaofeng Wu perform Chopin’s Introduction & Bolero in A, Op. 19 in concert at the University of Michigan’s Britton Recital Hall.

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