The Vault

Celebrating Chopin in 2010

Fredrick Chopin

This year is the 200 year anniversary of the birth of my favorite composer of all time: Chopin.

As I write this I’m listening to his Prelude #8 F Major….wait…it ended.  Now it’s Chopin Grande Valse Op42   Sometimes I think there is no Chopin piece that I don’t have memorized (not that I can play that many of them) and love. This particular piece made me think of a cat chasing a fly when I was a young boy, it goes breathtakingly fast and then sort of stops, and then super fast, and then delicate, etc.   Perhaps, as a piano player (sort of) what I’m amazed about is this little melody at the beginning of the piece and that sounds like a little singing in one part of the piece that is played by emphasizing the third note in string of rapid triplets.  Click here to here just the triplets as melody. Click here to here just the triplets as melody. So hard to do well.

But I digress.

I heard an interview with the legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman where he proclaimed that as a violinist, he was deprived of Chopin and a bit jealous of piano players.  I understand what he means: Chopin’s music is unique.  Highly expressive, with changing modality and subtle nuances characterize his work.  To me they represent, through music, feelings and emotions that could never fully be expressed in words.  For example, who has not heard the funeral march from Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35? Or the Prelude 20 in C Minor – which is the start and end of Barry Manilow’s “Could it be Magic”.

I, for one, will fulfill a goal on this 50th year of my own life to find three challenging Chopin pieces and enjoy learning and playing them for the rest of my own.

3 comments to Celebrating Chopin in 2010

  • Hi Priscilla! I’d love to be able to play Rhapsody in Blue. In fact I’ve got the (voluminous) sheet music sitting around somewhere. In fact, I’ve had the music for like 25 years and never tried to play it as, frankly, it’s too hard for me. At this stage.

    I was shooting for a polonaise, waltz and a prelude or two of Fred Chopin this year. Don’t get me wrong…would love to play rhapsody in blue, but not this year. After United Airlines adopted it as their theme music years ago I feel like I’ve heard it a thousand times…this is one time I don’t mind that they’ve hijacked one of the all time great American tunes for commercial branding.

    Hope all is well with you!


  • Rob

    Bravo! Can’t wait to see the YouTube takes on the three pieces; your love of classical music, and jazz, rocked my world.

  • Priscilla

    I’m thrilled you love “Rhapsody in Blue” too… so I’m hoping you eventually will learn to play it. I can wait for the concert. Perhaps when Kevin and Lietza are back in town, we can all gather and just maybe you can give at least parts of it a try…
    all things are well with me! and it surely appears as though the same is true for you. Glad of it.
    hugs, priscilla

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