Frédéric Chopin's four scherzos are single-movement pieces for solo piano, composed between 1833 and 1843. They are often linked to Chopin's four ballades, composed in roughly the same period; these works are examples of large scale autonomous musical pieces, composed within the classical framework, but surpassing previous expressive and technical limitations. Unlike the classical model, the musical form adopted by Chopin is not characterised by humour or elements of surprise, but by highly charged "gestures of despair and demonic energy".Commenting on the first scherzo, Robert Schumann wrote: "How is 'gravity' to clothe itself if 'jest' goes about in dark veils?"
Starting in the early 1830s, after his departure from Poland, Chopin's musical style changed significantly, entering a mature period with compositions of exceptional single-piece movements on a monumental scale, stamped with his unmistakable signature. There were ten of these extended works—the four ballades, the four scherzos and the two fantaisies (Op. 49 and 61). This musical transformation was preceded by Chopin's new attitude to life: after adulation in Warsaw, he felt disillusioned by lukewarm audiences in Vienna; then his prospects as a pianist-composer seemed less inviting; and lastly nostalgia and the recent 1830 Polish uprising drew him back spiritually to Poland. As a result, the emphasis on his music became focussed on composition instead of performance.
Chopin's early musical style originated in the "brilliant" virtuosic pianism of Daniel Steibelt, Carl Maria von Weber and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Going beyond the classical music of the late eighteenth century, Chopin's later music revitalised and transcended the brilliant style in several ways: in the first set of Études Op. 10, he introduced new highly concentrated contrapuntal elements; in the Nocturnes, the brilliant effects evolved into a mature ornamental melodic style; and, most importantly, he was able to imbue his works with an over-arching harmonic structure, effortlessly alternating lyrical and virtuosic passages. At the beginning of the 1830s, Chopin thus succeeded in moulding the Viennese multi-movement classical style with the subsequent brilliant style. From that period, sonata form can be discerned in Ballade No. 1 and the brilliant style in Scherzo No. 1. In the same way, Chopin's two late fantaisies breathed new life into the classical keyboard fantasia. For the extended mature works the historical genre titles—"ballade", "scherzo", or "fantaisie"—clearly had significance for Chopin; however, as Chopin scholar Jim Samson comments, "ultimately he transcended them".
The musical form "scherzo" comes from the Italian word 'joke'. In its classical form, it is usually part of a multi-movement work, in triple time with a lively tempo and light-hearted mood. Beethoven's scherzos perfectly exemplify this type of movement, with characteristic sforzandos off the beat, clearly articulated rhythms and rising or falling patterns. The scherzos in Chopin's piano sonatas start from Beethoven's model, particularly for his late sonatas and chamber music. Although various Beethovenian features are preserved—an A–B–A structure with sections A and B contrasting, triple time, pronounced articulation and sforzando accents—in terms of musical depth, Chopin's four scherzos enter into a different and grander realm. They are all marked presto or presto con fuoco and "expand immeasurably both the scale of the genre and its expressive range". In these piano pieces, particular the first three, any initial feeling of levity or jocularity is replaced by "an almost demonic power and energy".
Each of the four scherzos starts with abrupt or fragmentary motifs, which create a sense of tension or unease. The opening gestures of Scherzo No. 1 involve texture, dynamics and range: strident chords are followed by rapid will-o-the-wisp passagework, rising with crescendos—motifs that recur during the movement. In Scherzo No. 2, the initial fragmentary sotto voce rumblings are followed by a dramatic forceful response, all of which are repeated. The gesture that begins Scherzo No. 3 is similar to that of Scherzo No. 2, but less pronounced. The beginning of Scherzo No. 4 alternates two contrasting textures and harmonies—first subdued chords and then faster arched figures that rise and fall with the dynamics. In summary, Chopin established the one-movement scherzos as a genre in which the piece grew out of the opening fragmentary gestures, heard at the outset in the initial short and contrasting musical ideas. (For a more detailed musical analysis, please see the links to the main article of each scherzo.)
The Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20, was completed around 1833 in Paris.
The Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 31, was composed at the end of 1837 in Paris.
The Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp minor, Op. 39, was composed during the winter of 1838–1839 in the Valldemossa Charterhouse, Mallorca.
The Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54, was composed in 1842–1843 in Nohant.
The four scherzos are part of the established Chopin piano repertoire and have been recorded by many well-known pianists, including Alfred Cortot, Walter Gieseking, Arthur Rubinstein, Emil Gilels, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Maurizio Pollini, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Dinu Lipatti, Sviatoslav Richter, Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Emanuel Ax, Andrei Gavrilov, John Ogdon, Murray Perahia, Krystian Zimerman and Boris Berezovsky.[ citation needed ]
Frédéric François Chopin, born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic period who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."
Sonata, in music, literally means a piece played as opposed to a cantata, a piece sung. The term evolved through the history of music, designating a variety of forms until the Classical era, when it took on increasing importance. Sonata is a vague term, with varying meanings depending on the context and time period. By the early 19th century, it came to represent a principle of composing large-scale works. It was applied to most instrumental genres and regarded—alongside the fugue—as one of two fundamental methods of organizing, interpreting and analyzing concert music. Though the musical style of sonatas has changed since the Classical era, most 20th- and 21st-century sonatas still maintain the same structure.
A scherzo, in western classical music, is a short composition – sometimes a movement from a larger work such as a symphony or a sonata. The precise definition has varied over the years, but scherzo often refers to a movement that replaces the minuet as the third movement in a four-movement work, such as a symphony, sonata, or string quartet. The term can also refer to a fast-moving humorous composition that may or may not be part of a larger work.
The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, marked Quasi una fantasia, Op. 27, No. 2, is a piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. It was completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. The popular name Moonlight Sonata goes back to a critic's remark after Beethoven's death.
Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 29 in B♭ major, Op. 106 is a piano sonata that is widely viewed as one of the most important works of the composer's third period and among the greatest piano sonatas of all time. Completed in 1818, it is often considered to be Beethoven's most technically challenging piano composition and one of the most demanding solo works in the classical piano repertoire. The first documented public performance was in 1836 by Franz Liszt in the Salle Erard in Paris.
Six moments musicaux, Op. 16, is a set of solo piano pieces composed by the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff between October and December 1896. Each Moment musical reproduces a musical form characteristic of a previous musical era. The forms that appear in Rachmaninoff's incarnation are the nocturne, song without words, barcarolle, virtuoso étude, and theme and variations.
Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, is a piano sonata in four movements. Chopin completed the work while living in George Sand's manor in Nohant, some 250 km (160 mi) south of Paris, a year before it was published in 1840. The first of the composer's three mature sonatas, the work is considered to be one of the greatest piano sonatas of the literature.
Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58, is the last of the composer's piano sonatas. Completed in 1844 and dedicated to Countess Émilie de Perthuis, the work is considered to be one of Chopin's most difficult compositions, both technically and musically.
The Fantasie in C major, Op. 15, popularly known as the Wanderer Fantasy, is a four-movement fantasy for solo piano composed by Franz Schubert in 1822. It is widely considered Schubert's most technically demanding composition for the piano. Schubert himself said "the devil may play it," in reference to his own inability to do so properly.
A ballade, in classical music since the late 18th century, refers to a setting of a literary ballad, a narrative poem, in the musical tradition of the Lied, or to a one-movement instrumental piece with lyrical and dramatic narrative qualities reminiscent of such a song setting, especially a piano ballade.
The Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 5 of Johannes Brahms was written in 1853 and published the following year. The sonata is unusually large, consisting of five movements, as opposed to the traditional three or four. When he wrote this piano sonata, the genre was seen by many to be past its heyday. Brahms, enamored of Beethoven and the classical style, composed Piano Sonata No. 3 with a masterful combination of free Romantic spirit and strict classical architecture. As a further testament to Brahms' affinity for Beethoven, the Piano Sonata is infused with the instantly recognizable motive from Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 during the first, third, and fourth movements. Composed in Düsseldorf, it marks the end of his cycle of three sonatas, and was presented to Robert Schumann in November of that year; it was the last work that Brahms submitted to Schumann for commentary. Brahms was barely 20 years old at its composition. The piece is dedicated to Countess Ida von Hohenthal of Leipzig.
The Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38 is a ballade for solo piano by Frédéric Chopin, completed in 1839. A typical performance lasts six to eight minutes.
The Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52 is a ballade for solo piano by Frédéric Chopin, completed in 1842 in Paris. It is commonly considered one of Chopin's masterpieces, and one of the masterpieces of 19th-century piano music.
The Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49, by Frédéric Chopin is a single-movement work for the piano, composed in 1841, when he was 31 years old. From Chopin's letters it is known that he used the name "fantasy" to show some sort of freedom from rules and give a Romantic expression. Frédéric Chopin continued the tradition of a self-contained movement in his Fantaisie. This Fantaisie is one of Chopin's longest pieces, and is considered one of his greatest works.
The Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20, is a composition for solo piano written by Frédéric Chopin between 1831 and 1832 and dedicated to Thomas Albrecht. The piece begins with the tempo marking Presto con fuoco. The piece is dark, dramatic, and lively. It is complex and considered to be one of Chopin's more difficult works.
Frédéric Chopin's four ballades are single-movement pieces for solo piano, composed between 1831 and 1842. They are considered to be some of the most important and challenging pieces in the standard piano repertoire.
Vesselin Stanev is a Bulgarian pianist.
Frédéric Chopin composed three piano sonatas, two being published in his lifetime, one posthumously. They are often considered to be among Chopin's most difficult piano compositions both musically and technically. They cover a period of time from 1828 to 1844, reflecting Chopin's style changes.
Frédéric Chopin's compositions for piano and orchestra originated from the late 1820s to the early 1830s, and comprise three concert pieces he composed 1827–1828, while a student at the Central School of Music in Warsaw, two piano concertos, completed and premièred between finishing his studies and leaving Poland, and later drafts, resulting in two more published works. Among these, and the other works in the brilliant style which Chopin composed in this period, the concertos are the most accomplished ones.
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