Waltzes (Chopin)

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Frédéric Chopin’s Waltzes are pieces of moderate length adhering to the traditional 3/4 waltz time, but are remarkably different from the earlier Viennese waltzes in that they were not designed for dancing but for concert performance. Some of them are accessible by pianists of moderate capabilities, but the more difficult of them require an advanced technique. Carl Maria von Weber's Invitation to the Dance was an early model for Chopin's waltzes.

Chopin started writing waltzes in 1824, when he was fourteen, and continued until the year of his death, 1849.

Probably the most famous is the so-called Minute Waltz in D-flat major of 1847, part of the last set of waltzes Chopin published (Op. 64).

Background[edit]

There are thirty-six separate compositions that are of interest to students of the Chopin waltzes.

Chopin published eight waltzes in his lifetime. A further five were published with posthumous opus numbers in the decade following his death, and since then a further seven have been published, without opus numbers. Of these, two are considered doubtful. This brings the total to eighteen canonic waltzes, although often these are not numbered past the first fourteen.

The eighteen waltzes include a piece that was untitled; it is in 3/4 time with the tempo indication Sostenuto, and it has some of the characteristics of a waltz, so it is often (but not universally) catalogued with the waltzes.

In addition, there remain:

  • 2 extant waltzes in private hands and unavailable to researchers
  • 6 waltzes believed destroyed
  • 3 waltzes believed lost
  • 5 waltzes of which documentary evidence exists but the MSS are not known to be extant.

List of waltzes by or attributed to Chopin[edit]

Series
number
Key Composed Published Opus Number Brown Kobylańska Chominski Dedication Notes
1 E-flat major 1831–32 1834 (June) Op. 18 B.62 Laura Horsford Grande valse brilliante; used in Les Sylphides
2 A-flat major 1835 1838 Op. 34/1 B.94 Josefine von Thun-Hohenstein The three waltzes opus 34 were also published as Grandes valses brillantes, but this title is usually reserved for the Waltz in E-flat major, Op. 18
3 A minor 1834 1838 Op. 34/2 B.64 Baroness C. d'Ivry
4 F major 1838 1838 Op. 34/3 B.118 Mlle. A. d'Eichthal
5 A-flat major 1840 1840 Op. 42 B.131 Grande valse; sometimes called the 2/4 waltz since the main melody sounds as if in 2/4 time against a 3/4 bass.
6 D-flat major 1847 1847 Op. 64/1 B.164/1 Countess Delfina Potocka Valse du petit chien is the title Chopin gave this waltz, which is popularly known as Minute Waltz
7 C-sharp minor 1847 1847 Op. 64/2 B.164/2 Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild (= Charlotte de Rothschild) Used in Les Sylphides and Secret
8 A-flat major 1847 1847 Op. 64/3 B.164/3 Countess Katarzyna Branicka (or Bronicka)
9 A-flat major 1835 (24 September) 1852 Op. posth. 69/1 B.95 Charlotte de Rothschild, Mme Peruzzi and Maria Wodzińska L'adieu
10 B minor 1829 1852 Op. posth. 69/2 B.35 Wilhelm Kolberg
11 G-flat major 1832 1855 Op. posth. 70/1 B.92 Used in Les Sylphides
12 F minor/A-flat major 1841 (June) 1855 Op. posth. 70/2 B.138 Marie de Krudner, Mme. Oury, Élise Gavard & Countess Esterházy
13 D-flat major 1829 (3 October) 1855 Op. posth. 70/3 B.40
14 E minor 1829 (? 1830–35) 1868 - B.56 KK IVa/15 P1/15
15 E major 1829–30 1871–72 - B.44 KK IVa/12 P1/12
16 A-flat major 1827–30 1902 - B.21 KK IVa/13 P1/13 Emily Elsner
17 E-flat major 1827–30 1902 - B.46 KK IVa/14 P1/14 Emily Elsner Spurious
18 E-flat major 1840 1955 - B.133 KK IVb/10 Émile Gaillard Headed "Sostenuto"; not always classified as a waltz
19 A minor 1847–49 1955, 1958 - B.150 KK IVb/11 P2/11 Unedited edition pub. Paris 1955; ed. Jack Werner 1958
20 F-sharp minor 1838 (?) 1932 - KK Ib/7 A1/7 Valse mélancolique; spurious
- C major 1824 (?) - - KK Vb/8 Lost
- A minor 1824 - - - KK Vf Countess Lubienska Lost
- C major 1826 - - KK Vb/3 MS destroyed; copy of first line made by Chopin's sister Ludwika is extant
- A-flat major 1827 - - KK Vb/4 MS destroyed; copy of first line made by Chopin's sister Ludwika is extant
- D minor 1828 - - KK Vb/6 La Partenza; MS destroyed; copy of first line made by Chopin's sister Ludwika is extant
- A minor 1829 - - Discovered 1937; was in possession of H. Hinterberger of Vienna, but now believed destroyed
- A minor 1829 (?) - - - - Sketches for a brief prelude and main theme
- A-flat major 1829–30 (by 21 December 1830) - - KK Vb/5 Mentioned in a letter from Chopin to his family, 21 December 1830; MS destroyed; copy of first line made by Chopin's sister Ludwika is extant
- E-flat major 1829–30 - - KK Vb/7 MS destroyed; copy of first line made by Chopin's sister Ludwika is extant
- C major 1831 - - MS destroyed; copy of first line made by Chopin's sister Ludwika is extant
-  ? 1845 (by) - - - KK Ve/12 Mentioned in diary of L. Niedźwiecki
- B major 1848 (12 October) - - B.166 KK Va/3 Mrs Erskine MS in private hands and unavailable
- B-flat major 1849 - - Discovered 1952; in possession of Arthur Hedley
-  ?  ? - - KK Vb/7 Mentioned in letters from Breitkopf to Izabela Barcińska in 1878
-  ?  ? - - - KK Ve/10 Listed in auction catalogue, Paris, March 1906
-  ?  ? - - - KK Vf Several waltzes; lost

See also[edit]