COMPOSITIONS compositions

Nocturne in B major, Op. 32 No. 1 incypit

Genre: Nocturne

Key: B major

Opus/WN: Op. 32 No. 1

Creation date: 1836-1837 (1835-1837?)

Acc. to Paderewski: VII/9

Acc. to Turło: 116

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Kamila Billing De Courbonne


The Nocturnes, Op. 32 may not have aroused as much admiration as the two previous opuses, but they still occupy a worthy place among Chopin’s works in the genre. Especially the first of them, in the key of B major. This is a work that surprises; and that is probably what its dramatic role entails. It begins with a calm piano song, played dolce and sostenuto. Yet in the very first bars we find a sudden rest and pause, which ought to both disturb us and warn us. The theme returns several times, always interrupted. Then comes the ‘catastrophe’. That is how the last six bars of this Nocturne were called by Paolo Emilio Carapezza in his interesting interpretation. And that moment could hardly be better described. For Huneker, it is like ‘the drum-beat of tragedy’.

There is not one interpretation that does not express amazement. According to Hoesick, the ‘sinister recitative’ brings an ending that ‘defies all the rules’. Hedley assumes that such a train of events could only have been triggered by some unknown literary programme, concealed by Chopin – tragic, of course: perhaps a romance that ends in blood. And this is the same Chopin scholar who mocked all efforts at tying the plot of Adam Mickiewicz’s ballad ‘Świtezianka’ to the music of Chopin’s ballades. One thing is for sure: the shape of this strange, yet wonderful and moving nocturne cannot be explained by purely musical principles.

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


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