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 Op. 10, No. 12, the technique required in the opening bars is playing long, loud descending runs, 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. The rest of the passage focuses on the left hand fingering scales and arpeggios.
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 form (A–A′–coda)[example needed]. Some may also argue that it is of the ternary form (A–B–A–coda). 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, an approximate reconstruction of which can be viewed here:
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The end of the étude alludes to Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32, 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
- A cover version of this piece is used as the opening sequence music for the UK game show Interceptor.
- Bart Simpson pretended to play the etude in episode The Fabulous Faker Boy of The Simpsons series.
- 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). 93. Paris: University of Paris & H. Champion. p. 336. OCLC 489978309.
- Niecks, Frederick (1945), Frédéric 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: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- Chopin-Godowsky - Etude op. 10, No. 12 played by Francesco Libetta (YouTube)