This is one of the best-known (and arguably, the most difficult!) of the set of twelve études Chopin dedicated to Franz Liszt. The Études were published in a single volume in 1833, when Chopin was 23, although four of them are supposed to have been completed as early as 1829.
“Étude” literally means “study” or “exercise,” which is especially apparent in this particular work, which is designed to strengthen the “weaker” (that is, the third, fourth, and fifth) fingers of the right hand. But Chopin doesn’t stop there — the thumb and index fingers have to play the accompanying chords to the dizzying “melody” going up and down the keyboard on those “weak” fingers.
Just to underscore the technical nature of this étude, Chopin even takes a page from the J.S. Bach playbook and indicates the fingering – note by note — of the almost 800 notes in this piece!
Hear Chopin Project pianist Xiaofeng Wu perform Chopin’s Étude in A minor, Op. 10, No. 2
Some other links to Chopin Études, courtesy of Wikipedia: