Do you know which are the most famous Chopin pieces?
Chopin is widely regarded as one of the greatest piano composers who has over 200 songs to his name.
Here are a few facts about Chopin:
- Fryderyk (Frederic) Chopin who was born a Polish
- he later changed his citizenship to French
- he lived between 1810 and 1849
- Chopin was a child prodigy and his exemplary piano technique surprised everyone
Chopin lived in the romantic era which was popular for unique and rich compositions. His pieces cover a wide spectrum from Joy and sorrow and focused on the solo piano.
List of the Most Famous Chopin Pieces
His music has a poetic spirit and expresses varied emotions.
The most famous Chopin works cut across various niches such as :
- scherzos and sonatas.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best Chopin Pieces.
Chopin loved using folk music as his muse. He did so with the Barcarolle.
It wasn’t inspired by Polish folk music, but Italian folk music, as Barcarolle is a popular song in Venice.
So, the piece is heavily influenced by Italian sounds. This is a contrast to most of his other works.
The Italian influence can be seen through the cascades of thirds and sixths which are very reminiscent of the Italian Opera.
This piece too was composed during another difficult time in Chopin’s life as he was suffering from tuberculosis at the time. Four years after he composed Barcarolle, he died of the disease.
If you listen to Barcarolle, you’ll notice that it’s quite romantic and that its rhythm is smooth. This is a contrast to how he was probably feeling at the time.
2. Ballade No.1 in G minor
Chopin composed this piece when he was 21. Similar to Etude, it consists of dramatic, deep tones. This is due to the lilting rhythm used. It also has many interruptions throughout, adjusting its themes.
Although the inspiration for this piece is unknown, many think Ballade No.1 was inspired by the poem Konrad Wallenrod.
This is because it’s quite dramatic and cynical, similar to the melodies in the ballade.
3. Etude Op.10, No.12 in C minor, the Revolutionary Etude
Etudes Op. 10 which is the last piece of his first set was written in 1831 and published coincidentally at the time there was a Polish November Uprising to protest aganist Bolshevik authorities.
In this piece, Chopin lamented “All this has caused me much pain. Who could have foreseen it!”
From the piece, its clear Chopin used stormy harmonies to depict a trouble mind because of what was going on in his country.
It is evident in this piece he dedicated it to a famous Hungarian composer and close friend, Franz Liszt. Till today, Etudes Op.10 remains one of the most favorite and popular pieces that clearly demonstrates the musical talent Chopin had.
4. A Young Girl’s Wish, A Polish Traditional Song
Chopin loved Polish folk culture and wished to make a contribution by making music using Polish traditional poetry.
This piece is a perfect example and is a poem by Stefan Witwicki. It is telling a story of a young pleasant girl. She was in love with a man and she wished she could be the sun to permanently shine outside his window (or a bird that always sang for him).
“A Young Girl’s Wish” sang in quasi-opera tone rose to popularity and even attracted Franz Liszt who incorporated it into his “Harvest at Woronince” (1847).
5. Waltz in D-flat Major, Op. 64, No.1, the Minute Waltz
Waltz in D-flat Major is no doubt, one of the most successful and popular waltz authored by Frederic Chopin. It is one of the most famous songs.
The piece has a lively molto vivace tempo with the inclusion of the sustain pedal throughout the piece making it an upper class salon and dreamy piece.
Interestingly, the name Minute means the waltz composition is a shorter version of form. If you want the piece to complete playing within a minute’s time, you’re required to play 420 quarter notes every minute. As a result of evoking the imagery of a little dog that is chasing its tail, the waltz was popularly known as “The Little Dog Waltz.”
6. Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53, the Heroic Polonaise
Polonaise in A-flat major, is closely associated with independence, patriotism and national pride.
The composition is technically advanced and needs someone with good piano skills to do proper interpretation. The polonaise gets its nickname from French novelist George Sand’s writings captioned The Vigor! The Strength! The Inspiration!
It is evident such a spirit and determination needed to be present during the 1848 French Revolution. From then onwards, the polonaise is regarded a symbol of heroism.
7. 24 Preludes, Op. 28
Chopin’s Preludes have dominated piano music for several decades and continue to be popular even today. It is one of the most famous Chopin pieces.
Henry Finck, a popular musicologist admitted
“if all piano music in the world were to be destroyed, excepting one collection, my vote should be cast for Chopin’s Preludes.”
The Opus 28 Preludes were a great force to reckon with in the music industry immediately they were released. Preludes then were used as short introductory pieces to bigger projects but Chopin’s pieces exceeded expectations and performed excellently.
Mixed reactions have been fronted regarding Chopin’s Preludes. The fact remains they continue to be used extensively by the present day generation of pianists. The variety is beautiful and exciting even for shorter ones that last less than 90 bars.
It’s undeniable, Frederic Chopin’s most famous compositions and works have had a profound impact on several music generations. As opposed to others who focused on many instruments, Chopin decided to stick with the piano to best amplify his creativity.