COMPOSITIONS compositions

Polonaise in G sharp minor incypit

Genre: Polonaise

Key: G-sharp minor

Opus/WN: [op. posth.]

Creation date: ok.1824 (1822 - 1827?)

Acc. to Paderewski: VIII/14

Acc. to Turło: 163

Instruments: piano

Composition dedicated to:

Ludwika Dupont


The Polonaise in G sharp minor, dated by Chopin scholars to around 1824, and so a time when Chopin was taking private lessons with Elsner, was dedicated to one of the two Du Pont ladies – the mother or the daughter, Ludwika. Witnesses recall that Chopin often played with her four-handed.

This youthful work betrays a sentimental note, undoubtedly influenced by the minor key. It should be remembered, however, that those were years in which sentimental tendencies, born of the Enlightenment era, were still lively, with their characteristic accentuation of tenderness and hint of melancholy. They coincide with the departing classicism and nascent romanticism. A new possibility and temptation arose before the young Chopin, and he did not fail to succumb. He allowed himself to be seduced – for a good few years – by a fashion introduced by a generation of pianist-composers, which swept through the concert halls and salons of Europe. He knew that music well and had it in his fingertips.

The style brillant had two different aspects: the one that could be admired above all on the concert platform, in concert works full of sparkle and élan, and the one that addressed a small, private circle of listeners in a salon or drawing-room. In that second variety, grazioso prevails over brillante, rococo-style grace over dazzle. And it is this second variety that the G sharp minor Polonaise represents. Among this work’s ‘stage directions’ – the specifications of character and expression that Chopin wrote in the music – the terms ‘with grace’ or ‘gently and with grace’ appear time and again. Chopin has the very first theme of the polonaise played dolce con grazia. The second theme is defined with the word grazioso.

In the trio, as well, Chopin did not omit to remind the performer that a part of it is to be played dolce graziosamente (with gentle grace). The part in question is where a quasi-melody is exchanged for an unending sequence of trills.

Chopin did not deem this Polonaise worthy of publication. The manuscript was offered to the dedicatee. Years later, it came into the hands of the Warsaw publisher Kaufmann, who published it in 1864. One can just imagine the delight with which, forty years earlier, the guests in Mrs Du Pont’s salon had listened to the fourteen-year-old pianist performing his Polonaise in G sharp minor, brimming with elegiac delicacy and salon-style grace.

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


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Polonaise in G sharp minor [op. posth.]
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