Étude Op. 10, No. 12 (Chopin)


Étude Op. 10, No. 12 (Chopin)
Opening of the Revolutionary Étude

Étude Op. 10, No. 12 in C minor, known as the Revolutionary Étude or the Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw,[1] is a solo piano work by Frédéric Chopin written circa 1831, and the last in his first set, Douze Grandes Études, dedicated "à son ami Franz Liszt" ("to his friend Franz Liszt").

Contents

History

1831 Russian attack on Warsaw during the November 1830 Uprising, which inspired Chopin's Revolutionary Étude

The 12th Étude appeared around the same time as the November Uprising in 1831. Chopin poured his emotions on the matter into many pieces that he composed at that time, the "Revolutionary Étude" standing out as the most notable example. Upon conclusion of Poland's failed revolution against Russia, he cried "All this has caused me much pain. Who could have foreseen it!"[2]

Unlike études of prior periods (works designed to emphasize and develop particular aspects of musical technique), the romantic études of composers such as Chopin and Liszt are fully developed musical concert pieces, but still continue to represent a goal of developing stronger technique.

Technique

In the case of the 12th Étude, the technique required in the opening bars is playing long, loud descending runs extremely fast in mainly the left hand, which forms a dominant seventh chord (or diminished seventh chord) introductory build-up to the main theme. The length and the repetition of these rapid passages distinguishes the Revolutionary from other Études.

Although the greatest challenge lies with the relentless left hand semiquavers, the right hand is also challenged by the cross-rhythms which are used with increasing sophistication to handle the same theme in various successive parallel passages.

The left hand technique in this piece involves evenly played semiquavers throughout. The structure is of the strophic coda form (A A')[examples needed]. The opening broken chords (diminished chord with an added passing note) and downward passages transition into the main appassionato melody. The octave melody's dotted rhythms and the continuous accompaniment give an impression of tension.[3] The piece ends by recalling the opening in a final descending sweep (with both hands) descending to a C major chord, although within a context that draws its expected function as a resolution into question.

Influences

The end of the 12th Étude alludes to Beethoven's last piano sonata, written in the same key—a piece Chopin is known to have greatly admired (compare bars 77–81 in the Étude to bars 150–152 in the first movement (also ending in C major) of Beethoven's sonata.

References

  1. ^ Sophie de Korwin-Piotrowska, Balzac et le monde slave: Balzac en Pologne, p. 336.
  2. ^ Niecks, Frederick (1945), Frederic Chopin as a Man and Musician, p. 98 .
  3. ^ Kamien, Roger (1997), Music: An Appreciation (3rd ed.), Boston: McGraw-Hill, pp. 231–232, ISBN 0070365210 .

External links


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