Étude Op. 25, No. 1 (Chopin)

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Main article: Études (Chopin)

Étude Op. 25, No. 1 in A-flat major is a solo piano work composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1836, and published in 1837. The work consists entirely of rapid arpeggios and harmonic modulations based on A-flat major.

Robert Schumann praised this work in a dissertation on the Études; calling it "a poem rather than a study", he coined for it the alternate name "Aeolian Harp".[1] It is also sometimes known as "The Shepherd Boy," following an unsupported tale by Kleczyński that Chopin advised a pupil to picture a shepherd boy taking refuge in a grotto to avoid a storm playing the melody on his flute.[2]


First measures of Chopin's Étude Op. 25, No. 1. (Urtext edition).

This étude comprises a right-hand melody and supportive bass line, the accompaniment consisting of broken chords, provided by the inner voices of both hands, usually in semiquaver-tuplets. The left hand introduces polyrhythyms from time to time. The principal melody is presented by the right hand on the first note of each group of sextuplets, with occasional counter-melodies provided by the inner voices.

The distinctive theme is presented in A-flat major. Through metamorphic modulations to closely related keys, it eventually arrives at a brief episode in the remote key of A major, but culminates with an intense climax in the home key, and a momentary reference to the original thematic material, which flows easily into the coda.

Martha Goldstein playing on an Erard (1851) - 2574KB

Performed by Donald Betts. Courtesy of Musopen

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Technically, the piece requires both dexterity and velocity, good balance and weighting of the arms coupled with flexible finger stretches.[citation needed]The inner voice figures consist of repeated figures of arpeggiated chords. Schumann commented on Chopin's subtle emphasis on certain melodies throughout this piece.[3] One difficulty the étude presents is the voicing of the inner counter-melodies. The 3 annotated studies by Leopold Godowsky on this etude exploit this aspect of this piece and also introduce the student to further possibilities in the Chopin original.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Schumann quoted by Kullak, quoted by James Huneker in Chopin: the Man and His Music (1900).
  2. ^ Johnson, p. 80
  3. ^ "Chopin Etude 25.1", In the Hands. March 13, 2007.


  • Ashton Johnson,(reprinted 2010), A Handbook to Chopin's Works. (in Google Books).

External links[edit]