COMPOSITIONS compositions

Rondo in E flat major, incypit

Genre: Rondo

Key: E-flat major

Opus/WN: Op. 16

Creation date: 1829-1834

Acc. to Paderewski: XII/3

Acc. to Turło: 195

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Caroline Hartmann


The Rondo in E flat major, Op. 16 was possibly composed during a beautiful summer spent at Côteau, and it was published in the autumn of 1833 with an unusually long dedication: ‘dedié à son élève Mademoiselle Caroline Hartmann par…’ (‘dedicated to his pupil Miss Caroline Hartmann by…’). This work is pure virtuosic display.

It scurries by in a single breath – allegro vivace, as befits a rondo. It wavers between risoluto and dolce, falling here and there into rubato, brillante and leggiero. In the opinion of Jachimecki, who is rather critical of this work, ‘the themes slide smoothly over the keyboard, without disturbing the varnish…’

The refrain brings a distant echo of a krakowiak – of the ballroom, rather than country tavern, variety. It is complemented by a forceful, risoluto motif. The theme of the episode, heard once in A flat major and then in B flat major, which functions here like a second theme, brings a singing, harmonious character. The mood alters with the graceful but flighty motif of the bridge passage, characteristic of the brillant style. The last appearance of the refrain anticipates the climactic coda, in which the pianistic display reaches its zenith.

The Rondo is furnished, of course, with an introduction, which in this instance is quite a singular one, as it gives the impression of a hastily jotted down improvisation. Jachimecki considers that ‘it has no causal relationship with the actual rondo’. It presents a sequence of fragments that start… then break off, as if wondering at one another.

The Rondo in E flat major – like the Variations on a theme from the opera Ludovic and the Grand Duo Concertant on themes from Robert le diable – bears testimony to a time that might be called a period of adaptation. The young pianist from Warsaw is trying to find his place in Paris – a city that has bewildered and partly also enslaved him. ‘For a while’, as he confessed to Elsner – he wanted to put aside ‘loftier artistic vistas. ‘I am forced’, he wrote, ‘to think about forging a path for myself as a pianist’. As a pianist composing music that was in vogue, like that being composed by all those around him, such as Kalkbrenner, Herz, Moscheles and Thalberg – music intended for the Parisian salons. This sparkling Rondo, which dazzles with its pianistic virtuosity, was composed in that Parisian bon goût.

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


The Real Chopin »

Nikolai Demidenko

Rondo in E flat major, Op. 16
Gallery »