Chopin's music for piano contains some of the most charming and melancholy melodies even written, but it is also famous for being some of the most challenging for pianists to play.
We're alert to that fact, and so, alongside many original Chopin piano scores, we have also created arrangements that are not as difficult as the original, but still include those famous tunes. Here are some of the best we have on 8notes. If you need more, visit our Chopin page.
The videos shown below feature professional pianists playing the original pieces as Chopin wrote them, so you can get a sense of how they sound in all their original glory.
1. Funeral March
Perhaps the most famous of all of Chopin's piano music. It was played at his own funeral at Paris s Père Lachaise Cemetery; has been used at the funerals of politicians such as John F Kennedy and Winston Churchill; and appeared many times in popular culture.
The tempo should remain steady throughout - don't rush! The left hand should hardly move, the fingers maintaining close contact to the keys and providing an even accompaniment. The right hand will need to be played with a little more weight than the left to bring out the melody. The dynamic changes are especially important. Don't be afraid to play quite loudly when required, but remember that the key to good dynamics is contrast - fortes will not need to be so big if you can also control the piano sections.
Chopin popularised, even though he did not invent the nocturne, this being his most well-known example. It is also famous for its use in popular culture, recently appearing, for example, in episode 10 of Westworld.
Again the left hand should maintain close key contact - especially it should roughly follow the fingering laid out in the first bar. Though not marked, you may also considering using the sustain pedal for each bar. The right hand should be as expressive as possible. This may be achieved by closely following the dynamic markings and perhaps by adding some of your own, for example a crescendo towards the high A in bar 7 followed by a diminuendo.
Another famous melody that has appeared in blockbusting films such as Face/Off and Margin Call. You will need to be careful that those constant quavers in the left hand are as expressive as the melody they accompany. The best way to achieve this is through liberal use of rubato. To get a feel for this, listen to the video. You will notice that the tempo changes subtly all of the time, the left hand never playing rigidly in time.
The tempo at the beginning can be relatively strict. One change of tempo, at bar 14, is clearly marked, but this should also be presaged by a slight increase of tempo at bar 6 followed by a slowing down back to the main tempo at bar 9.
Another work that was played at Chopin's funeral, this beautiful prelude requires especially good left hand control. In particular, the notes within and between each chord must be quiet and of equal weight, which means keeping your fingers almost glued to the piano keys. This will give you maximum control and provide the subtlest of accompaniments for the aching beautiful melody in the right hand.