Nationalism in Poland in the 19th Century (Part 3)

Mazurka in B major op. 56 no 1

  • Mazur and Waltz-oberek ritornel in the middle section (E flat major)

  • constant transfer of the melody (from the bass to the soprano part)

  • perfect 5ths in the accompaniment


Mazurka in C major op. 56 no 2

  • increase in the fourth degree of the scale indicates the impact of Lydian scale

  • perfect 5ths in the left hand

  • stomping at the end of each section (sf) and on the first and third beat (>)

  • polyphony - two types of Kujawiak in the middle section: simple melody in the bass line (male voice) and subtle and highly ornamented melody in the soprano line (female voice)


Mazurka in C minor op. 56 no 3

  • polyphonic technique

  • the main mazurka theme is a result of previous themes and is constantly developed

  • simple motives between different variants of the main mazurka theme


Chopin departured to Vienna in 1830, in order to repeat his previous success. During his stay in Stuttgart, he heard terrible news about the fall of the November uprising (against the Russian Empire) that made his planned return to Poland impossible. In his Stuttgart's diary he wrote: ‘Moscow rules the world! Oh God, do You exist? You do, and yet You do not take vengeance. Have You not had enough of these Muscovite crimes or ... or, are You Yourself a Russian!!!? ... Father, Mother where are you? Perhaps corpses’ [1]‘... And here I am, with my bare hands. Sometimes I grieve playing the piano, I despair.[2] In 1831, Chopin went to Paris, where he met a lot of his compatriots. Following the national defeat, thousands of refugees (combatants, politicians, artists and poets) sought a new home far away from Russian occupation. Chopin got involved in the Great Emigration, was a member of the Polish Literature Society, took part in meetings of emigrants and played at charity events for  poor emigrants.

Are you currently working on Mazurkas by Fryderyk Chopin? Please get in touch with Edyta Lajdorf - piano lessons London instructor - and arrange your trial lesson.

Polonaise developed in Poland long before the XIXth century and it had been a popular dance at courts all around Europe. As a child Chopin listened to polonaises by Michał Kleofas Ogiński, Maria Szymanowska and Karol Kurpiński. Chopin’s Polonaises use patterns from folk music. Early Polonaises use a formula derived directly from dance practice. The development of this genre proceeded in the direction of changing to the heroic dance poem with enhanced musical contrasts and a certain internal expression (Lyrical Polonaise, Heroic Polonaise). Heroic character of Polonaises is achieved by the rhythm, dynamic and harmony that lead to the significant density in texture. Chopin wanted to extract the most important features of the dance without quoting phrases and themes. Therefore, in mature Polonaises the composer uses a compositional technique called a motivic development. Themes, phrases and motives become independent in order to be developed and modified. Moreover, Chopin abandons the folk rhythm in some parts of the form.

[1] A. Hedley, Chopin (London 1957), 42

[2] Fryderyk Chopin Institute, Chopin’s letters, Translation of F. Chopin’s Diary (Stuttgart September 8, 1831)

Edyta Lajdorf BMus (Hons) RCM, MMus, LRSM (Teaching), SMISM. If you are interested in piano lessons London, please get in touch.

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