COMPOSITIONS compositions

Nocturne in F major, Op. 15 No. 1 incypit

Genre: Nocturne

Key: F major

Opus/WN: Op. 15 No. 1

Creation date: 1830-1833

Acc. to Paderewski: VII/4

Acc. to Turło: 111

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Ferdynand Hiller


The Nocturne in F major was published in December 1833, simultaneously in Paris and Leipzig (slightly later in London), together with the two other works comprising opus 15.

Like two of the three nocturnes from the previous set (Op. 9), Chopin gave the Nocturne in F major from Op. 15 a ternary reprise form. Already in the last nocturne from opus 9, in the key of B major, Chopin had applied the principle of strong contrast and the poetic of a sudden shift in the middle section of the work. In the F major Nocturne from Op. 15, the contrast is heightened further still, and the moment of surprise is intensified. In the metaphoric interpretation of Hugo Leichtentritt, Chopin juxtaposed ‘an idyll of sounds, bright, delicate and pleasant, illumined by the sun, with a tempest that erupts suddenly with violence and brute force’. It should be added that the tempest then suddenly disappears, giving way to the returning music of the opening.

Chopin has the idyllic first section played Andante, and also cantabile, semplice i tranquillo (singingly, simply and tranquilly). He characterised the music of that volcanic middle section, no longer in F major, but in the gloomy F minor, with the words con fuoco. The opening section returns – after the ‘tempest’ has passed – unaltered, which in Chopin is a rare occurrence, only with a different kind of sound, in a restrained sotto voce. This does not mean a dynamic quieting, but rather a shift into the tone of concentrated, intimate speech.

The singing, endlessly-spun melody of the F major Nocturne was an open invitation to transcribe. Auguste Franchomme gave it to the cello, whilst Alexander Glazunov orchestrated it, including it in a suite entitled Chopiniana, also familiar in a ballet version.

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


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