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Frédéric Chopin

Frédéric Chopin's Nocturne output spans virtually his entire creative career. Some, like the three works of Opus 9 (his earliest published entry in the genre), owe a great deal to Irish composer John Field, from whom Chopin inherited the form. Others, like the two works published as Opus 27 and, particularly, the pair of Opus 48 Nocturnes, are so unique in tone and powerfully dramatic in scope that one almost feels them to be more aptly described as ballades in miniature. The Two Nocturnes, Op.48, dedicated to Mlle. L.Duperré, were composed during 1841 and published during January of the following year (the copyright was sold by the composer, along with the copyrights for the Allegro de Concert, Op.46, the Fantasie Op.49, and the F-sharp minor Polonaise, op.44, for 2000 francs). The 1840s were, in many significant ways, the most musically fruitful years of Chopin's short life; in the Opus 48 Nocturnes both the immediacy of emotional/psychological drama and the mastery of subtlety with which that drama is presented that so mark music of the composer's mature period are strikingly evident. The Nocturne in C minor, Op.48, No.1 is one of the grandest, in terms of both size and nobility of expression, of all Chopin's character pieces. The principal subject of the piece is an expression of the deepest grief (it is of melodies such as this that opponents of the composer have often used the term "sickly", particularly when such melodies are played without insight and by self-indulgent pianists). The central section, marked Doppio movimento (twice as fast), has a devout, march-like character (and is thus partly responsible for he legend, entirely unsubstantiated and highly unlikely, that this Nocturne was composed to represent the spiritual repentance of a sinner). The reprise of the opening theme brings with it a great agitation that is only dispelled by the arrival of the magnificent, peaceful coda.