Chopin Course 14 – The idea of a Nocturne; Nocturne in E minor

Chopin and Paris - the two go together like love and marriage, horse and carriage. Chopin's life divided into two halves: the first half in Poland, the second Paris. When he left his beloved home at the age of 20, never to return - though Poland never left his heart, and he would forever carry within him a constant tinge of melancholy at his separation from country, family and friends - he began a new chapter in Paris, where he was to remain for the rest of his much-too-short life. Chopin lived in Paris for just 18 years, but what a time it was! He became the jewel in the crown of the Romantic generation of artists at the heart of the Romantic centre of Europe. In Paris he created a new type of music in his Etudes, Waltzes and above all Nocturnes - elegant, refined, seductive, masterful. We shall hear selections from this repertoire in coming posts, but today we look at a Nocturne he composed while still in Poland - as a 17 year-old student. However this is far from a 'student work'. This earliest of his 19 Nocturnes is a mature and visionary work with great depth of feeling. The central and closing episodes suggest the impressionistic sounds Debussy would create three quarters of a century later, but the essence of the piece is music as only Chopin could write - sad and beautiful, while at the same time aristocratically dignified. Chopin was, and is, a class act.

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