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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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Arthur Greene playsAs Chopin Project Artistic Director Arthur Greene heads off to Novi Sad, Serbia, to judge and perform in the Isidor Bajic Memorial Competition, he leaves us a taste of his masterful Chopin interpretation with this performance of the Mazurka in C-sharp minor, Op. 6, No. 2.
Click on the Piano Piano Player Icon to hear the Mazurka with its mysterious opening, “a song so sad, heartfelt, naive, diversified and caressing.”
Mazurkas, Op. 6Take a look at this fascinating University of Chicago site with digital images of Historic Scores of the Op. 6 Mazurkas, dating from 1832-1850.

Love the Chopin Mazurkas? Read a fuller description of them on the Pianosociety.com website…

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!

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

Click on the cover page!

Olga KleiakinaToday the Chopin Project spotlight falls on Russian-born Michigan pianist Olga Kleiankina, performing the First Impromptu (in A-flat, Op. 29, No. 1) by Chopin. By its very title “Impromptu” is supposed to mean just that — just a perky, playful little ditty that Fryderyk would dash off at the keyboard without a lot of forethought or consideration. The reality is, of course, anything but that! Chopin’s Impromptus are eternally popular, and devilishly difficult to pull off. Olga Kleiankina adds, “I felt a lot of pressure preparing for these concerts and was more than a little anxious. But the audiences were very warm, and it turned out to be such a pleasure. Even though I didn’t happen to play any major works, (many of them were almost unknown, in fact!), I came to love all my pieces, and I felt the audience did too. Even though they were miniatures, I felt that each one was perfectly organized from the very inside – in a way, a microcosmos….part of the transcendental world of Chopin’s imagination.”
Piano Player IconCLICK ON THE PIANO to hear to Olga Kleiankina play Chopin’s Impromptu in A-flat, Op. 29, No. 1. before an appreciative Ann Arbor audience.
Feeling ambitious? Download the sheet music here from pianosociety.com.
And read more about the Impromptus on Chopinmusic.net

Paganini ChopinThis rare bit of Chopiniana was supposedly written after violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini came through Warsaw in the summer of 1829, a concert we know that Chopin attended. A month later he graduated from the Higher School of Music in Warsaw, where a teacher wrote, “Chopin, Fryderyk: third-year student, amazing capabilities, musical genius.”

 
   

Dmitri Vorobiev

Piano Player IconCLICK ON THE PIANO to hear Dmitri Vorobiev perform Chopin’s Variations in A Major, “Souvenir de Paganini” KK 1203

Find the sheet music at Pianopedia

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.

Chopin Mazurkas The Mazurkas, like the Polonaises, are the compositions closest to Chopin’s Polish roots. In fact, many Chopin scholars say the Mazurkas are Chopin at his most personal, experimental, and confessional: 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. Chopin started his composing with a Polonaise and ended with a Mazurka, thus closing the circle.”PianoSociety.com This is also what makes people study Chopin’s 58+ Mazurkas intently. Check out The Mazurka Project – a British site offering comparative study of 3000 recordings of Chopin Mazurkas!xiaofang wuListen to Xiaofeng Wu perform Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, Op. 68, No.2 in concert at the University of Michigan’s Britton Recital Hall.Get the music at Sheet Music Plus.