COMPOSITIONS compositions

Polonaise in E flat minor, Op. 26 No. 2 incypit

Genre: Polonaise

Key: E-flat minor

Opus/WN: Op. 26 No. 2

Creation date: 1831-1836

Acc. to Paderewski: VIII/2

Acc. to Turło: 151

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Joseph Dessauer


‘Melancholic’ is an epithet that no one (besides Chopin) has applied to the second of the Op. 26 Polonaises, in E flat minor, as it brings music that is both too sombre and too dramatic for that term to be deemed adequate.

The opening gesture is rather moving. First a gloominess, mined from the piano’s low register, then an explosion of accumulated energy. And the main theme is born: slowly, with resistance and difficulty, but with growing passion. Its complement brings an air of mystery and a gathering of energy for another eruption. The trio is filled with music that is soft and dark, despite the key of B major. Through its relentless repetition of a single rhythmic formula and its rejection of melodiousness, it brings a mood of hopeless expectation.

The form of the work is grounded on the principle of a rondo-like alternation: the intertwining of the strand expressing expectation and the strand that brings eruption. But this is not, of course, a typical rondo, as there is no play or amusement in evidence.

Two places – besides the beginning of the work – create the greatest impression. The first is the transition from the central climax to the reprise; the second is the ending itself – the cadence of the E flat minor Polonaise. This play of rests, pauses and dynamics is without equal. In these couple of bars, Chopin offers us tragic beauty.

Maurycy Karasowski heard in the E flat minor Polonaise music that ‘our pen (we sense) is too weak’ to define. The Italian monographer Ippolito Valetta called it a ‘revolt against destiny’. Tadeusz Zieliński ventured an assessment that – even if we might not agree – gives us food for thought: ‘The Polonaise in E flat minor is one of the most beautiful – or perhaps the most beautiful – of Chopin’s polonaises’.

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


The Real Chopin »

Dina Yoffe

Polonaise in E flat minor, Op. 26 No. 2 Op. 26 No. 2
Gallery »