Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Frédéric Chopin

The nineteenth century composer's penchant for the new and different led to the implementation of many new genres and forms, including the short character piece. The rise of national and patriotic feelings also contributed to the appearance of several dance forms and compositional genres previously unknown in the western European art world. It was in this environment of change and acceptance that Chopin appropriated, developed, and elevated the mazurka, an artistic blend of three native Polish dance forms, traditional Polish classical music, and the western aesthetics of Chopin's formal training. This miniature piece serves as an exploration in rhythmic, modal, harmonic, textural, and emotional variety, each mazurka a unique emanation of deep sources of inspiration. The mazurkas of Op. 56 display the dramatic contrast possible within the same genre. The first is a joyous, tender reflection, with an intimate salon feel. The contrasting sections demonstrate Chopin's lyrical ability, and the subtle change of melody between hands attest to his developing style. The second mazurka has a true Polish flavor, with a rhythmic drone accompaniment, irregular accents, and rustic grace note figures. The chromaticism and sophisticated imitation among the voices are further evidence of Chopin's maturing style. The dance-like second piece is followed by a mysterious and unusual third mazurka. The rhythmic ambiguity, combined with the stronger emphasis on the second and third beats, creates a truly native feel. The contrasting section bursts into a patriotic, rhythmic, chordal texture, but quickly returns to the original, winding theme.