Chopin composed two piano concerti. These large-scale masterpieces each comprise three movements and follow the classical concerto structure to a certain extent. Chopin worked on them simultaneously, while living in Warsaw. In these works, he made extensive use of Polish themes. He had always been fascinated by the rhythms and melodic vitality of Polish folk music. The finales of both concerti are greatly influenced by Polish dances, especially the mazurka.
The concerti are challenging; they demand a mastery of pianoforte technique and musicality. They are frequently performed with orchestras around the world. However, some believe that the orchestral scores are inadequate, and that the accompaniment serves only as a medium to the piano. Nevertheless, the young, inexperienced musician’s output is impressive. The works’ inherent simplicity is elegant, as it sheds light on a new genre of concerto.
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 11
On October 11, 1830, Chopin performed a “farewell” concert in Warsaw, before leaving for France. He performed his first piano concerto with great success: the audience was enthusiastic. This is the first concerto he published; however it is in fact the second concerto he composed. He dedicated it to Friedrich Kalkbrenner, one of the great keyboard virtuosi and pedagogues of his time, whom Chopin revered to such an extent that he considered studying with him when he arrived in Paris.
The concerto contains the three movements that are typical of classical concerti:
1. Allegro maestoso
, a majestic statement;
2. Romance: Larghetto
, a charming nocturne;
3. Rondo: Vivace
, an elegant conlusion.
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Chopin composed his second piano concerto at the age of 19. Its nature is more personal and expressive than that of the first. He performed it for the first time, on March 17, 1830, in Warsaw. It is regarded as one of the most important piano concerti of Romantic music.
Its structure is similar to that of the first:
, a majestic introduction;
, an endearing piece;
3. Allegro vivace
, a lively ending.
Sheet Music and Recordings
This page was last updated on 6 May 2013