COMPOSITIONS compositions

Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26 No. 1 incypit

Genre: Polonaise

Key: C-sharp minor

Opus/WN: Op. 26 No. 1

Creation date: 1831-1836

Acc. to Paderewski: VIII/1

Acc. to Turło: 150

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Joseph Dessauer


The first of the Op. 26 Polonaises, in the key of C sharp minor, begins with a powerful blow – appassionato and fortissimo. This musical opening gesture has a Beethovenian vigour about it. The principal theme, following hot on its heels, presents the polonaise rhythms and a melody that grows and climbs, before falling a moment later. The complementary idea, uttered sotto voce, brings an air of mystery and menace.

The C sharp minor Polonaise is famed for its trio (in D flat major), about which whole poems have been written. It immediately introduces a lyrical tone, perhaps even slightly sentimental, but highly dignified. The character of the right-hand melody is close to that of an operatic aria – songful, but weighed down by embellishment. It proceeds against a remarkably elaborate harmonic ground, and it might be said to move with cast-iron logic. The work’s climax is brought by the second of the trio’s melodies. We essentially have here not one melody, but two, which dialogue with one another.

Interpreters generally see this dialogue as bringing highly-charged erotic moments to this generically heroic work, citing the contrast between ‘pain bordering on despair’ and ‘heavenly delight’, as well as the ‘barely stemmed tears’.

Very rarely, and perhaps rather timidly, have any critical accents appeared in texts devoted to the Polonaise in C sharp minor: even the proximity of the salon, the rhetoric of the introductory section, the surfeit of literal repeats… In the opinions of the vast majority of interpreters, this work has met with admiration and esteem. It has been deemed to display ‘melodies filled with longing, sorrow, suffering and unassuaged grief’. The composer himself bestowed upon the C sharp minor Polonaise the epithet ‘mélancholique’.

Author: Mieczysław Tomaszewski
[Cykl audycji "Fryderyka Chopina Dzieła Wszystkie"]
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Polonaise in C sharp minor, Op. 26 No. 1 Op. 26 No. 1
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