Frédéric François Chopin (1810 – 1849) was a Polish
composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who
wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained
worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one
whose "poetic genius was based on a professional
technique that was without equal in his
The nineteenth century saw the emergence of several new
forms and genres, in some part as a departure from the
great sonata form enlarged and expanded by Beethoven.
As a result, many composers, especially for the piano,
were turning towards more intimate character pieces.
These miniatures allowed for the brief exploration of
an idea, whether technical or emotional. Among the new
genres appearing at the time was Chopin's Mazurka, a
fusion of three Polish dance forms with the classical
traditions of the composer's homeland. The three dance
forms, the Mazur, the Kujawiak, and the Oberek, are
sometimes found in their pure form, but often are
merged with each other or with other genres or styles.
The Mazurka enabled Chopin to explore many different
dynamic, harmonic, and melodic colors, and to create
many different personalities and characteristics. The
result is a genre that can't be described universally,
each piece being unique.
The Mazurkas of Opus 33 each present distinct traits
and characteristics. The first, marked Lento, has a
lyrical, expressive melody line over a waltz pattern in
the bass. The mood shifts effortlessly between mournful
and hopeful, with a cherished and delicate intimacy.
The second Mazurka is a true Oberek, impetuous, fast,
and with strong, irregular accents. The mood is joyous,
with playful, comic tremolo figures. The coda is free
and full of flurries. The third piece of the
collection, marked Semplice, is truly a simple and
innocent approach to the genre. The sweet, tender
melodic line is supported by subtly accented second
beats, keeping the flavor of the dance. The final
Mazurka adds rhythmic interest to the set, with the
grace notes and trills bringing a rustic, native feel.
The piece is written in rondo form, with several
different characters appearing in the episodes between
the recurring original theme.
Although originally composed for solo piano, I created
this interpretation of the Mazurka in B Minor (Op. 33
No. 4) for Woodwind Quartet (Flute, Oboe, Bb Clarinet &