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Archive for the ‘Waltzes’ Category

Chopinmusic.net calls this Grand Valseone of Chopin’s most popular and glittering works.” We’re hard pressed to disagree.

Click on the piano to hear Chopin Project pianist Jei-Yern Ryu perform Chopin’s effervescent Waltz in E-flat, Op. 18.

Want to try playing it yourself? Download the sheet music here.

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Marie WodzinksaIs this indeed Chopin’s “farewell” to his Polish fiancee Marie Wodzińska?  The autographed manuscript has the inscription “Pour Mlle Marie.”  We’ll let the “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” blog pick up the story…with a tip of the hat…
#1 — In 1835, while in Dresden trying to find a cure or some relief for his “consumption”, Chopin renews his acquaintence with the Wodzinski family, who had lived in his father’s boarding house back in Poland years before. Their young daughter Maria is an accomplished pianist in her own right and Chopin falls in love with her. She is 17, he is 25.#2 — They maintain a strong relationship by letter and see each other periodically as Chopin criss-crosses Europe giving concerts and teaching the aristocracy. Not long after on September 9, 1936, Chopin proposes marriage during a holiday together, chaparoned by Marie’s mother. Marie accepts.#3 — Marie’s family tells the couple that the engagement will not be “official” until Chopin proves that he is gonna live long enough to take care of their daughter! He gets a one year trial period to improve his failing health or all bets are off. He also needs to prove that he can provide a stable home environment. Due to continual travelling and performing, he has not yet set up a permanent home.#4 — So into this milieu marches Georg Sand. They meet approximately October 24, 1836, a month or so after Chopin proposes to Marie. Chopin is ill and realizes he just may be rejected by Marie’s family as decent husband material. Sand is separated and soon divorced from her Baron husband and has 2 children, a boy, Maurice and a girl, Solange.#5 — As luck would have it, Chopin cannot do what the Wodzinski family requires of him. He becomes very ill over the winter months and eventually meets Marie in Germany the early part of July, 1837 after a series of concerts in England and the Netherlands. Marie’s family sees the state of his frail health and instructs her to reject his proposal….by letter….later. By the time he returns to Paris toward the end of July, he receives word of the broken “unofficial” engagement. He wraps Marie’s correspondence and the rejection letter in a bundle and labels it “My Sorrow”.

Other factoids, courtesy of Wikipedia:

This song was heard in The Others and in an episode of Mad TV where Stuart gets piano lessons. It is prominently used in the PC game Alone in the Dark as both the game over music and as a song you can hear if you pick up a gramaphone and a certain record, though this version is played in a different tempo.

Chih-Long HuChih-Long Hu of the Chopin Project performs the Waltz in A-flat, Op. 69, No. 1 minor. To hear it, Click on the piano! Piano Player IconFor information on obtaining the sheet music to the Waltz from the Musicroom, Click on the cover page!

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The Waltz, c. 1806Chopinmusic calls it “the most ambitious and substantial of all Chopin’s waltzes.”

The Vancouver Chopin Society goes even further, quoting David Dubal in suggesting that this “Grand Valse” is the essence of Chopin:

A case may be made for the Op. 42 as Chopin’s most perfect valse. After the first measures of trill, a call to the dance, there is a melody with a rare lilt composed in double time, with the triple time of the waltz in the left hand. Schumann remarked that “like his earlier waltzes it is a salon piece of the noblest kind.” The composition, Schumann feels, should be danced to only by “countesses at least.” This waltz is the most demanding technically of the series.

Chopin’s official title for the piece is the Grande Valse Nouvelle pour le piano, Op. 42. There’s a fascinating detail of its publication history available at Chopin First Editions Online.

Piano Player IconClick on the piano to hear it played live at a Chopin Project concert by Artistic Director Arthur Greene.

Want to play it yourself? Get the score at the Sheet Music Archive.

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Chopin’s third waltz has been called a “piece full of melancholy, gloom and grief, expressed in mournful simplicity.”

Though, according to the Vancouver Chopin Society,

The composer Stephen Heller related that Chopin called this slow (Lento) waltz his favorite. When Heller told the Pole that he, too, loved it best, Chopin immediately invited him for lunch at a fashionable cafe. Frederick Niecks wrote of this piece, “The composer evidently found pleasure in giving way to this delicious languor, in indulging in these melancholy thoughts full of sweetest, tenderest loving and longing.”

Polina KhatskoPolina Khatsko of the Chopin Project performs the Waltz in A minor, Op. 34, No. 2. To hear it, Click on the piano!

Piano Player Icon

For information on obtaining the sheet music to the Waltz from the Musicroom,

Click on the cover page!

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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.”

Svetlana Smolina

From the Chopin Project concerts, Piano Player IconCLICK ON THE PIANO to listen to Svetlana Smolina perform Chopin’s Waltz in C-sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2.

Speaking of virtuosos, this is also one of the pieces that Vladimir Horowitz performed at the White House during a 50th anniversary Command Performance for President & Mrs. Carter in 1978. You can watch it on YouTube, with some nice close-ups of Horowitz’s hands.

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Why are Chopin’s Waltzes so perennially appealing to pianists? The folks at the boutique label Brana Records offer a clue: nicely: “They incorporate a range of moods from melancholy to effervescent but retain an air of sophistication suited to aristocratic salons.”

This Waltz in F minor, in fact, steps right out of a Parisian drawing-room. It’s one of two works dedicated to Elise Gavard (she was also the dedicate of the Berceuse in D Flat major, Op. 57 – more on that in a later post). It was composed in 1842, but was not published until 1855, six years after Chopin’s death. Indeed there’s some scholarly speculation that Chopin didn’t really want it to circulate very much. The Chopin Music site calls it a work of beauty amidst lost longing:

This dance is a gloomy song of failed entreaty. Its melody glances slightly at that which it temporarily enjoyed. The central section is one of absolute beauty, characterizing its style almost perfectly.

Hear Soyoung Park perform Chopin’s Waltz in F minor, Op. 70, No. 2 at the Chopin Project Concert VIII.

Find the complete sheetmusic at Pianosociety.com

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