Scherzo No. 4 (Chopin)

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Frédéric Chopin composed his Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54, the fourth and the last of his scherzos in 1842.

The scherzo was published in 1843. Unlike the preceding three scherzi (Op. 20, Op. 31, Op. 39), the E-major is generally calmer in temperament, though it still possesses some exceptionally passionate and dramatic moments. The scherzo is in sonata rondo form, moving to a trio in C-sharp minor that is based on a Polish folk song. As such, it is the only one of Chopin's four scherzos primarily based on a major key.


The fourth scherzo's primary theme is first introduced with a humorous melody played by both hands in an E major key signature marked with the tempo Presto. The melody of the main theme is mostly played in chords, until it reaches a faster section where some of the melody is played in quaver notes. The key signature changes from E major to A-flat major and then back to E major in the middle of the main theme. After the main theme ends, the secondary theme is introduced with a slow melody, in C-sharp minor key signature, marked Più lento and mainly accompanied by arpeggios played in quarter notes and eighth notes. The second theme is somehow melancholic in tone, which contrasts the main theme as the opposite of the secondary theme. In the middle of the secondary theme, the key signature is changed to F major for 10 measures and then back to E major. This change happens three times in the secondary theme. The melody grows louder in the end and is then followed with a transition between the secondary theme and the repetition of the main theme. This transition is in forms of quick arpeggiated quaver notes and tremolos at the end of the transition. After the transition, the tempo is back to the main tempo. The main theme is repeated but in a louder and livelier tone than the first with more companion notes for the left hand such as tremolos and chords. In the middle of the repetition, the same change of key signature as the first theme is repeated. After this change, another change of key signature from E major to E-flat major occurs. The scherzo ends with a coda in E major and is closed with a six-octave E major scale followed by two E major chords. This scherzo is the longest out of the four, both in time around 8 - 10 minutes and measures (over 960 measures/bars).

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