COMPOSITIONS compositions

Waltz in A flat major, incypit

Genre: Waltz

Key: A-flat major

Opus/WN: Op. 42

Creation date: 1839(?) - 1840

Acc. to Paderewski: IX/5

Acc. to Turło: 211

Instruments: piano


Two years after the publication of the three Waltzes, Op. 34, Chopin matured into publishing a new waltz – one that might be termed a waltz supreme! It is published as a separate work, the Waltz in A flat major, Op. 42, and it has the character of a dance poem.

The five intertwining themes are dramatically structured into a coherent and intriguing whole. A listener who has been successfully lured by the opening bars simply has to go on till the end. The invitation to listen is delivered by a trill lasting a full eight bars. The first theme shocks: though the left hand beats out a distinct triple-time waltz rhythm, the right hand simultaneously plays a little melody that proceeds in a duple rhythm (bars 9–20). The second theme brings pure figuration. It takes on the function of a ritornel, returning a moment later as the refrain in a rondo (bars (39)40–48), of which the next two themes resemble episodes. The first of these episodes brings a burst of lively amusement (bars (57)58–64). The second marks its presence with the harmonious swaying of chords that carry a quite dramatic melody (bars 97–104). The character of the last of the themes – the fifth – is predictable. The sostenuto in C minor arises right in the middle of the poem, blooming with one of those melodies that is hard to forget (bars 121–139).

This is the waltz about which Schumann wrote, in his own imitable way: ‘if it were played for dancers […] at least half of the ladies should be young countesses’.[i]


[i] Robert Schumann, On Music and Musicians, tr. Paul Rosenfeld, ed. Konrad Wolff (London, 1947), 143.

Author: Mieczysław Tomaszewski
[Cykl audycji "Fryderyka Chopina Dzieła Wszystkie"]
Polish Radio, program II


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