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Chopin, Fryderyk (Frédéric) - Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21

Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Fryderyk (Frédéric) Chopin
b. Zelazowa Wola, Poland / March 1, 1810; d. Paris, France / October 17, 1849

The piano completely dominated Chopin’s life. He played it, with incomparable grace and brilliance; taught it, for the artistic benefit of others, and the financial benefit of himself; and wrote for it, with complete understanding of its expressive capabilities. So total was his identification with the piano that he included it in every piece of music he composed.

In addition to numerous solo works for intimate recitals, Chopin also created six pieces with orchestral accompaniment, for those occasions when larger forces were available (although over the years the full concertos have on occasion been performed, in small venues, accompanied by a small body of strings). He composed the two concertos in 1829 and 1830, at the end of his teens. Due to a delay in publishing, they appeared in the reverse order of their composition. Therefore the Concerto in F Minor, which will be performed at these concerts, though labeled No. 2, is actually the earlier piece.

At the time he composed it, he was in the midst of his first important love affair. The object of his regard was a gifted singer, Konstancja Gladkowska. Naturally his feelings made themselves felt in his music. He wrote to a friend, “I have already found my ideal, whom I worship faithfully and sincerely. Six months have elapsed, and I haven’t yet exchanged a syllable with her of whom I dream every night – she who was in my mind when I composed the slow movement of my concerto.” It received its premiere, in Warsaw, shortly after he completed it. Chopin himself was the soloist, making his public debut in his nation’s capitol. The concert won him considerable success.

In typical early Romantic fashion, the first movement begins with a lengthy orchestral introduction. It presents the two main themes, and sets the music’s overall tone of poetic melancholy. The second movement is one of Chopin’s loveliest creations, flowing straight from his love stricken heart. The finale, brisk but never overstated, features hints of Polish flavored dance music. It gradually discards its early traces of emotional uncertainty, to end the concerto in a totally carefree atmosphere.

Program Notes by Don Anderson © 2018

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