Étude Op. 25, No. 1 (Chopin)


Étude Op. 25, No. 1 (Chopin)
Excerpt from the Étude Op. 25, No. 1

Étude Op. 25, No. in A-flat major is a solo piano work composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1836, and published in 1837. Its romanticized names are "Aeolian Harp," for Schumann's description of it, and "The Shepherd Boy," for Chopin's advice to a pupil to picture a shepherd boy refuging in a grotto to avoid a storm playing the melody on his flute. This work consists entirely of rapid arpeggios and harmonic modulations based on A-flat major. Robert Schumann famously praised this work in a dissertation on the Études. Stating that the arpeggios were "fantastic", and the melody "wondrous", Schumann coined the alternate name "Aeolian Harp" for this étude.[1]

Contents

Structure

This étude comprises a right-hand melody and supportive bass line, the accompaniment consisting of broken chords, provided by the inner voices of both hands, usually in semiquaver-tuplets. The left hand introduces polyrhythyms from time to time. The principal melody is presented by the right hand on the first note of each group of sextuplets, with occasional counter-melodies provided by the inner voices.

The distinctive theme is presented in A-flat major. Through metamorphic modulations to closely related keys, it eventually arrives at a brief episode in the remote key of A major, but culminates with an intense climax in the home key, and a momentary reference to the original thematic material, which flows easily into the coda.

Technique

As a technical work, this piece requires very little dexterity and velocity, compared to the other etudes. The inner voice figures consist of repeated figures of arpeggiated chords. One difficulty this étude presents is the voicing of the inner counter-melodies. Schumann once commented on Chopin's subtle emphasis on certain melodies throughout this piece.[2]

Notes

References

  • Arthur Hedley: Chopin. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1947
  • Adam Zamoyski: Chopin. Granada Publishing Limited, 1979
  • John Gillespie: Five Centuries of Keyboard Music. Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1965
  • James Friskin and Irwin Freundlich: Music for the Piano. Dover Publications, Inc., 1973
  • Harold C. Schonberg: The Great Pianists from Mozart to the Present. Simon and Schuster, 1963
  • Ates Orga: Chopin. Midas Books, 1976
  • Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians,5th Edition. St. Martin's Press, 1954

External links


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