Nocturne In C Minor No. He composed this in but it was published after his death thus posthumous is included in the title in As a piano musical form, the Nocturne is called such because it evokes the evening and it also evokes emotions of privacy and subtlety. Specifically expressive are its soft, effortlessly flowing trills and steady playing of the chords.
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Chopin wrote 21 nocturnes in his lifetime, between To this day his nocturnes are considered to be some of the best piano compositions of all time. I would consider it to be at an early advanced level. The challenges in this piece involve keeping the opening chords tight without being heavy, letting the trills flow effortlessly, and creating beautiful left hand shape.
The Nocturne in Pop culture One reason many people are familiar with this nocturne is that it appears in the movie The Pianist twice — at the beginning and end. The Holocaust survivor Natalia Karp played this piece for a Nazi concentration camp commandant, which impressed him enough to not kill her. Musical features This nocturne is written in common time but features lots of Chopin-esque tempo benders like expressive triplets and trills.
Nocturnes are very expressive and melodically-driven, and usually with a moody character. The form here is ternary three-part form. Ternary form is very simple and straightforward, with a main part A , a contrasting section B , and a return to the main part A. Nocturne: Introduction The introduction, 4 bars long, feels very formal and final compared to the rest of the piece.
The chords sound very resolute and sad and take some care to play in a way where everything sounds simultaneously, and without sounding heavy-handed. The two phrases in the introduction are identical — the second phrase serving as a softer echo. Pianistically, this intro is tougher than it appears. When switching chords you need to keep the top note of the chord smoothly transitioning to the next note — easy with a single melody line, but difficult when your melody is embedded in chords.
One thing less advanced pianists are wont to do is rely on the pedal to create that legato melody. But not you — right? These are wide broken chords, often spanning a distance of a 10th, which requires fluid wrist movement. No easy feat! That being said, a great effect is made when the lowest bass notes are held ever-so-slightly longer, like a tenuto. Since Chopin was writing this as an exercise for his second Concerto, you can see a tie-in here.
These two bars 21 and 22 resemble the main theme from the third movement of that concerto. The next two bars 23 and 24 resemble the second part of the second theme in the first movement of that concerto. I love how he holds back throughout this entire piece — you never get a big, satisfying climactic moment, but you have these gorgeous descending trills that never reach a full forte. Less is more. You have to keep the left hand steady, while the right hand plays scale figures in polyrhythm polyrhythm means they have two different timings at once.
That second run is deadly — done right, it sounds like a glissando dragging up and down the keys. But to get the fingers playing that quickly and nimbly to sound so effortless takes a ton of work. The effect is magical though.
When I learned this, I drew lines in the music connecting the left hand note to a corresponding right hand note. I used my ear to decide which notes should match up, and it took a lot of trial and error. I probably spent a couple hours just getting the hang of this part.
Free Piano Sheet Music – Nocturne In C Minor No. 21 – Op. Post – Chopin
Nocturne in C minor, Op. posth. (Chopin)
Nocturne in C-sharp minor, Op. posth. (Chopin)