Étude Op. 10, No. 12 (Chopin)
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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. Upon the 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, while still continuing the goal of developing stronger technique.
In the case of Op. 10, No. 12, the technique required in the opening bars is playing long, loud descending runs, which form a dominant minor ninth chord introductory build-up to the main theme. The length and the repetition of these rapid passages distinguish the "Revolutionary" from other études. The rest of the passage focuses on the left hand fingering scales and arpeggios. The opening theme, in the right hand, is notable for its powerful chordal basis along with such demanding rapid leaps that most professional pianists prefer to play the dotted rhythms out of time.
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 main theme in various successive parallel passages. The RH is also challenged by the need to shape widely distributed chords into legato melodic shapes.
The left hand technique in this piece involves evenly played semiquavers throughout. The structure is in Chopin's usual ternary form (A–B–A–coda). The opening arresting figuration transitions into the main appassionato melody. The octave melody's upward ascending forte dotted rhythms and the continuous tumultuous LH accompaniment provide great drama with few moments of respite. The piece ends by recalling the opening in a final descending sweep (with both hands) descending to an F major chord, eventually cadencing on C major (tierce de Picardie).
The end of the étude is thought by some to allude to Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32, written in the same key – compare bars 77–81 in the Étude to bars 150–152 in the first movement (also ending in C major) of Beethoven's sonata. However, this assertion is not backed up by any historical evidence, and is itself open to contestation.
In popular culture
- de Korwin-Piotrowska, Sophie (1933). Baldensperger, Fernand; Hazard, Paul (eds.). Balzac et le monde slave [Balzac and the Slavic World]. Bibliothèque de la Revue de littérature comparée (in French). Vol. 93. Paris: University of Paris & H. Champion. p. 336. OCLC 489978309.
- Niecks, Frederick (1945), Frédéric Chopin as a Man and Musician, p. 98.
- "The Music Lover". IMDb.com.
- 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: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Ignaz Friedman
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Alfred Cortot
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Arthur Rubinstein
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Claudio Arrau
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Vladimir Horowitz
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Sviatoslav Richter
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Tamás Vásáry
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Adam Harasiewicz
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Vladimir Ashkenazy
- Op. 10, No. 12 played by Maurizio Pollini
- Chopin-Godowsky - Etude op. 10, No. 12 played by Francesco Libetta (YouTube)