Études (Chopin)

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The Études by Frédéric Chopin are three sets of solo studies for the piano. There are twenty-seven overall, comprising two separate collections of twelve, numbered Opus 10 and 25, and a set of three without opus number.

Quotes[edit]

The beginning of Chopin's Étude Op. 10 No. 3

  • Op. 10 No. 3

Quotes about Études (Chopin)[edit]

  • The student should concentrate on: Improving both the polyphonic (individual tone-value of the fingers) and legato playing - Expressive merging of the rubato tempo with the musical phrasing - Development of extension - Melodic use of the pedal.)
    Difficulties to overcome: Intesnse expresiveness imparted by the weaker finers and the particular position of the hand arising therefrom. Legato by portamento (finger-substitution). Firmness of attack in striking the double notes when these are widely spaced. ...
    The rubato tempo maintained throughout the Study must moreover never be either fitfully marked or exaggerated in any way. Indeed it should follow faithfully the natural quickening or slowing of declamation which sometimes lingers throught emotion, and at other times is sped on by eagerness.
    As to the pedal, like in most compositions of similar nature, it should be used almost exclusively for bringing out the melodic line.
    Consequently, avoid using it in an elementary manner, extending it over whole harmonic groups; it should, in the contrary, be changed frequently, and the intervals necessary to lift it between beats should be as short as possible.
    • On Chopin's Op. 10 No. 3
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.10. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert)
    • Translated by M. Parkinson.
  • The student should concentrate on: Perfecting polyphonic playing - Expressive intensity of tone - Legato.
    Particular difficulties: Individual tone for each of the simultaneous melodic lines - Extension.
    The feverish and concentrated character of this Study (too often played "Adagio", inspite of Chopin having marked it "Andante" without further metronomic specification) does not admit of playing the figure in semiquavers either in a flavourless shade of "piano" or a colourless legato which would reduce this figure to being only an accompaniment.
    • On Chopin's Op. 10 No. 6
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.10. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert)
    • Translated by M. Parkinson.
  • The student should concentrate on: Development of extension. Strength of attack of the 5th finger. Perfecting of chord-playing. Flexibility of the hand and the hand and the wrist. Rhythmical independence.
    In spite of the fact that the outstanding difficulty of this composition relates to the successive broken chords which form its melodic structure, it is imperative that before undertaking the particular study of the latter, special exercises should be devoted to acquire the individual mobility of each finger.
    It is a common mistake when practising said passages in broken chords to use the wrist as principal performing agent. This compels the fingers to press the keys only as far dwon as the swiftness of the wrist moving along the keyboard will allow; a certain stiffness and compactness of the fingers result, and this impairs both ease of execution and ton value.
    • On Chopin's Op. 10 No. 10
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.10. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert)
    • Translated by M. Parkinson.
  • To enlarge upon pianoforte technique when referring to a composition which is an exalted outery of revoit - to set down fingerings for pages wherein the emotions of a whole race of people are alive and throbbing - to compose practical exercises for music pregnant with the mysterious and terrible force of genius, may appear an odd misunderstanding of the deep inner meaning of this Study and a dull appreciation indeed of the pathetic and exalted element which composes its particular essence.
    Nevertheless, the throbbing, the sweep and the marked vigour which run through its pages will only be truthfully rendered by the performer who has overcome the difficulties and who can completely ignore the numerous technical obstacles which lie between him and the feelings he must express.
    Consequently, the study of compositions similar to this one should be approached with an unassuming and respectful attitude which are in theselves the proof of that comprehension which lends dignity and nobleness to virtuosity though the latter is subjected to interpretation.
    • On Chopin's Op. 10 No. 12
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.10. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert)
    • Translated by M. Parkinson.
  • To have an idea of his playing, one must imagine somebody playing an aeolian harp - a harp, however, able to produce the whole range of tonalities - and that the artist's hand, plucking here and plucking there, is tracing in rich profusion intreicate arabesques of sound, and yet one can hear a deep lower note and a delicate treble throughout the whole performance.
    • On Chopin's Op. 25 No. 1
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.25. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert).
  • We think it uncalled for to point out that the light and vivacious character which prevails at the beginning and at the end of this composition should in no way be affected by the above-mentioned modifications of touch. The latter are but very delicate tints of coluring; they should not influence the general mood of these pages which Chopin indicated as "Scherzando".
    In complete opposition, the middle passage in E major with its penetrating and colourful atmosphere of sound and its poetical and expressive ardour being - as it were - expressed with greater freedom in marked contrast with the alert and precise figure that precedes and follows it.
    • On Chopin's Op. 25 No. 5
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.25. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert).
  • The technical formula which serves as frame to this Study proves that the composer wished the student to work out one particular difficulty demanding a special kind of practice which would develop both strength and agility of the fingers.
    But Chopin's genius widened - maybe unawares - the limited scope of a Study written for perfecting mechanical assets to the infinite horizon of a work of art; indeed he transforms the figure played by the right hand into an overwhelming and tempestuous flood of sound severely kept under control by the unrelenting rhythm of the bass. Such a stormy and splendid vitality run through these pages that the performer is not only faced with a technical problem, but is compelled to translate a musical poem as well.
    • On Chopin's Op. 25 No. 11
    • Alfred Cortot, Frédéric Chopin. 12 Études, op.25. Édition de travail des oeuvres de Chopin (Editions Salabert).

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