I love Chopin’s piano music.
Put simply, Chopin took the simple and insignificant and made it beautiful and meaningful. His was not a life of great symphonies, but one in which the little things were championed.
Most of the pieces Chopin wrote in his relatively short life (he died in 1849 aged 39) were short and yet, they remain some of the most beautiful and well known pieces of piano music. His sublime combination of dissonance (clashing notes), counterpoint (the combination of different lines of melody) and rubato (slowing/speeding up the tempo) meant that these short pieces of music could hold a depth of musicality that challenges the mind and lifts the soul. As a result, the great Liszt described Chopin as the “gentle, harmonious genius”.
I love the fragility often associated with Chopin’s music, but there is also a solid depth of musicality in its foundations. In many ways, it is some of the most accessible classical piano music for a new listener to enjoy and yet remains challenging and stimulating for the seasoned listener. It is also great piano music to play as well!
Chopin, The Soundtrack to 21st Century Life
Chopin’s piano music is the perfect soundtrack to 21st century life – his pieces are short and so can easily be enjoyed on a train journey, sat on the bus or relaxing in the park. You don’t need to clear 20 minutes in your schedule to enjoy some grand symphony – his music instantly creates a mood (often deeply relaxing and evocative), which allows you to escape into a different world.
If you are looking to listen to some Chopin piano music then here are some suggestions:
Nocturnes – This “salon genre” was new in Chopin’s time. In many ways it was looked down upon as being “inferior”, but Chopin wrote pieces that lifted this above its seemingly humble situation. Try….
Preludes – Chopin’s book of 24 preludes (inspired by Bach’s Prelude and Fugues) are best characterised by the stunning emotion of the well known E minor prelude. When you hear the simple beauty of this piece it is not difficult to understand why it is popular with listeners and film producers alike.
Etudes – Chopin’s etudes are a whirlwind of showmanship and extreme technique. From the first dazzling arpeggios of the C major it is clear that Chopin elevated the humble piano study to something much grander. If you want to see virtuosic performance then try the C major etude – it’s breathtaking.
Other Recommended Listening
If the above has whet your appetite, then try any of Chopin’s Ballades and Scherzi or a Polonaise.
If you are looking for something contemporary, try some of the music of Dustin O’Halloran:
Alternatively, you may like my piano piece “Solace”..