COMPOSITIONS compositions

Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 50 No. 3 incypit

Genre: Mazurka

Key: C-sharp minor

Opus/WN: Op. 50 No. 3

Creation date: 1841-1842

Acc. to Paderewski: X/32

Acc. to Turło: 82

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Henry Field
Leon Szmitkowski


The third Mazurka, in C sharp minor, is an absolute masterpiece. Not just inspired, but also excellently designed. At the turn of the 1840s, Chopin’s interest was aroused by a book published in Paris in 1837: a handbook on counterpoint by Cherubini. The effect of this increased interest in counterpoint, and of Chopin’s heightened knowledge and skill in this area, are the mazurkas of successive opuses, including Op. 50. Polyphonic technique was integrated into the texture of mazurkas, though sketched as if with a fine pen. Hereafter, three kinds of texture would coexist and intertwine in the music of the mazurkas: homophonic, which was typical of mazurkas, using chords to enhance the accompaniment melody, monophonic and polyphonic.

Chopin contrasted the delicacy and subtlety of the opening theme, expressed in the form of a canon, with the full, tempestuous sound of the mazur counter-theme. Two further motifs arise over the course of this work. First we hear the echo of a dizzying oberek – the relentless repetition of a single phrase, though always in a slightly different way. That is followed by a sostenuto, sung broadly to a kujawiak tune. The alternating pulsation of these four rhythms and tones of narration appears to be endless, yet everything here, from the very beginning, has been moving towards a final culmination… towards a contrapuntal, chromaticised stretto, rather odd in a mazurka, and its dramatic watershed, inflected with tragedy. The music then quietens and subsides, but does not die away.

One hardly wonders that George Sand, sensitive as she was to music, was all but euphoric. ‘Chopin has composed two adorable mazurkas’, she informed Eugène Delacroix, before adding, with perhaps deliberate hyperbole: ‘that are worth more than forty novels and express more than all the literature of the century’.

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


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Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op. 50 No. 3 Op. 50 No. 3
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