Étude Op. 10, No. 12 (Chopin)
Étude Op. 10, No. 12 in C minor, known as the Revolutionary Étude or the Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw, is a solo piano work by Frédéric Chopin written circa 1831, and the last in his first set, Etudes Op.10, dedicated "à son ami Franz Liszt" ("to his friend Franz Liszt").
The 12th Étude appeared around the same time as the November Uprising in 1831. Chopin poured his emotions on the matter into many pieces that he composed at that time, the "Revolutionary Étude" standing out as the most notable example. Upon conclusion of Poland's failed revolution against Russia, he cried "All this has caused me much pain. Who could have foreseen it!"
Unlike études of prior periods (works designed to emphasize and develop particular aspects of musical technique), the romantic études of composers such as Chopin and Liszt are fully developed musical concert pieces, but still continue to represent a goal of developing stronger technique.
In the case of the 12th Étude, the technique required in the opening bars is playing long, loud descending runs extremely fast in mainly the left hand, which forms a dominant seventh chord introductory build-up to the main theme. The length and the repetition of these rapid passages distinguishes the Revolutionary from other Études.
Although the greatest challenge lies with the relentless left hand semiquavers, the right hand is also challenged by the cross-rhythms which are used with increasing sophistication to handle the same theme in various successive parallel passages.
The left hand technique in this piece involves evenly played semiquavers throughout. The structure is of the strophic coda form (A A')[examples needed]. The opening broken chords (diminished chord with an added passing note) and downward passages transition into the main appassionato melody. The octave melody's dotted rhythms and the continuous accompaniment give an impression of tension. The piece ends by recalling the opening in a final descending sweep (with both hands) descending to a C major chord, although within a context that draws its expected function as a resolution into question.
The pianist Alexander Dreyschock was renowned for playing the left hand part in octaves.
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The end of the 12th Étude alludes to Beethoven's last piano sonata, written in the same key—a piece Chopin is known to have greatly admired (compare bars 77–81 in the Étude to bars 150–152 in the first movement (also ending in C major) of Beethoven's sonata.
In popular culture
The piece can be heard in the Tom and Jerry episode Snowbody Loves Me, as well as in The King of Fighters 2003 when players face Adelheid Bernstein, in the Abbott and Costello short The Music Lovers in the famous bit where Lou fakes playing the piano while Bud hides behind said piano with a phonograph, in the Scooby-Doo television movie Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, when the character Shreako plays a piano with a broken key, and also in Power Rangers Zeo in an episode where a character named Skull plays it in a contest. A cover version of this piece is used as the opening sequence music for the UK game show Interceptor. The song can be heard in Deadly Premonition only by driving the car of Diane Ames, which can be purchased alongside the cars of several other characters. It also plays in the video game Catherine, in the final battle against Dumizid. In Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck, Daffy Duck plays an exploding piano and, in The Amanda Show, the mad teacher plays a piano. It can also be heard twice in Eternal Sonata - once during a brief interlude in the second chapter and an arrangement can be heard in the game's final battle. The opening can be heard in Same Time next Year (1978), the scene when George is ready for romance and Doris enters in the final stage of her pregnancy, George sits down at the piano and plays this trying to dissipate his excess energy. In Kamen Rider Kuuga, it can be heard several times during episodes 27 and 28, during which a villain bases her murders around a portion of the song's notes. The Dance Dance Revolution song Kakumei is based on this etude.
- Sophie de Korwin-Piotrowska (1933). Fernand Baldensperger; Paul Hazard, eds. Balzac et le monde slave [Balzac and the Slavic World]. Bibliothèque de la Revue de littérature comparée (in French) 93. Paris: University of Paris & H. Champion. p. 336. OCLC 489978309.
- Niecks, Frederick (1945), Frederic Chopin as a Man and Musician, p. 98.
- Kamien, Roger (1997), Music: An Appreciation (3rd ed.), Boston: McGraw-Hill, pp. 231–232, ISBN 0-07-036521-0.
- Analysis of Chopin Etudes at ourchopin.com
- Mutopia Project - A public domain engraving of the score using GNU LilyPond, available in several formats.
- Études Op.10: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Chopin-Godowsky - Etude op. 10, No. 12 played by Francesco Libetta (YouTube)