Chopin course 3 – Mazurka in F minor, Op.7, No.3

The mazurkas are the music Chopin heard in the villages just outside Warsaw as he was growing up. They are folk dances encapsulating the Polish spirit. They have a very characteristic rhythm and style, even though the emotional content varies greatly from one mazurka to another - from the joyous thrusting of the Mazurka in B flat in the last posting, to pessimistic sadness and melancholy. This particular Mazurka begins with a mournful introduction which leads into a beautiful wistful melody accompanied by a kind of strumming in the left hand. There's a proud central section, with foot stamping on the first beat of each bar. (This emphasis on the first beat of each bar is the defining feature of mazurkas - in contrast to waltzes, which lean on the second of the three beats in each bar and float effortlessly along.) The good cheer doesn't last long, however, and soon we hear the mournful introduction again, followed by a reprise of the main melody, and before we know it the beautiful little piece fades away like a wisp of air.

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