Chopin Course 5 – Mazurka in A minor, Op.68, No.2

Today's mazurka is an unusual one. It was composed when Chopin was just 17 years old, still a student at the Warsaw Musical Academy. As such, he had no publisher, so this evocative little mazurka was not revealed to the world until after his death - which occured only 22 years later. It is thus listed as 'posthumous'. I used to think the unpleasant word 'posthumous', in the place where 'opus' numbers go, rather spooky: how could a piece be composed post-humously, i.e. 'after life'. But of course, the word refers - like opus numbers - only to the date of publication. This mazurka was published in 1855, six years after the composer's death, along with a number of other pieces from his student days. Chopin could have published it himself as soon as he became established and famous, and had not one but several publishers - in France, Vienna, Germany and England. Why didn't he? Was it because he regarded it as a 'student work' and not worthy of publication? No, certainly not. Though simple, this haunting little piece is artistically quite sophisticated: it is like a memory of a bygone time and a distant place, and it achieves a visionary universality. The reason, I think, is that most composers - and performers - once they have dealt with a piece of music, are concerned only with the next project, and don't spend time thinking back on old works. I myself never listen to any of my own recordings; I am impatient to get on with the next thing. If I do happen to hear something I recorded I am almost always irritated, thinking 'I could do that so much better now'. Chopin even neglected to publish what eventually became one of his most popular ever works - Fantasy-Impromptu. His friends made sure they included that one in the batch that was published in 1855.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment