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The Nocturne is generally credited to the Irish composer/pianist John Field, who published his first three Nocturnes in 1814. These romantic character pieces are written in a somewhat melancholy style, with an expressive, dreamy melody over broken-chord accompaniment. The majority of Chopin's nocturnes adopt a simple A-B-A form. The A-part is usually in a dreamy bel-canto style, whereas the B part is of a more dramatic content. In distinction of melody, wealth of harmony and originality of piano style, Chopin's nocturnes leave Field's far behind. The similarity of Chopin's nocturnes to Bellini's cavatinas (such as `Casta diva' from Norma) has often been noticed, though there is little evidence of direct influence in either direction.

Fransz Liszt: "We have seen the shy, serenely tender emotions which Field charged them to interpret, supplanted by strange and foreign effects. Only one genius possessed himself of this style, lending to it all the movement and ardour of which it was susceptible. Chopin, in his poetic Nocturnes, sang not only the harmonies which are the source of our most ineffable delights, but likewise the restless, agitating bewilderment to which they often give rise."



The Chopin Nocturnes
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Click on a Nocturne Opus below for a description, recording and sheet music.

        - Op. 9
        - Op. 15
        - Op. 27
        - Op. 32
        - Op. 37
        - Op. 48
        - Op. 55
        - Op. 62
        - Posthumous

        - Nocturnes Manuscripts Photographs


Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1, Larghetto, in B flat Minor

Composed in 1830/1832, published in 1832/33 , dedicated to Marie Pleyel.

The first of Chopin's works to be published in France, Germany, and England were these Nocturnes, op. 9, which appeared over the period from December 1832 to June 1833. They were composed - in part - in Vienna, and completed in Paris. This first Nocturne immediately confirms the character of the Nocturne. The irregularity of the rhythmic patterns is one aspect of Chopin's style of ornamentation that continues to find varied expression in later works such as Op. 27 No. 2.

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2, Andante, in E Flat Major

Composed in 1830/1832, published in 1833 , dedicated to Marie Pleyel.

This Nocturne resemble the style of Field's nocturne No. 9 in the same key. The left hand figuration is similar, and both have cadenza like passages towards the end.

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 9 No. 3, Allegretto, in B Major

Composed in 1830/1832, published in 1833 , dedicated to Marie Pleyel.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Op. 15 No. 1, Andante Cantabile, in F Major

Composed in 1830/31, published in 1833/34 , dedicated to Ferdinand Hiller.

This piece starts quitly followed by a stormy F minor central section.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 15 No. 2, Larghetto, in F Sharp Major

Composed in 1830/31, published in 1833/34 , dedicated to Ferdinand Hiller.

Although this Nocturne is fairly popular, this song is not so well known as the very famous Nocturne in Eb. It has many more technical difficulties and requires more technique and a greater range of dynamics.

Arthur Hedley says this nocturne was composed in 1832, after Chopin's arrival in Paris.

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 15 No. 3, Lento, in G Minor

Composed in 1833, published in 1833/34 , dedicated to Ferdinand Hiller.

In this Nocturne it is the irregularity and unpredictability of the phrasing is demanding attention. It is wistful in its outer sections, with a hymn-like passage at its heart, marked `religioso'. To enhance the 'purity' of this passage, Chopin deliberately refrained from using the sustaining pedal. The expected return to the opening, however, is replaced by a new idea, also somewhat modal in character. This seems to approach a cadence in D minor, but the concluding chords bring the music back to G, with a archaic 4-3 suspension and Picardy 3rd.

It is doubtful whether any consistent example of such harmony can be found of earlier date unless the third movement, 'in the Lydian mode', of Beethoven's String Quartet Op.132 is included.

A story goes - that Chopin, after seeing 'Hamlet', composed this Nocturne and named it 'On The Graveyard". After been asked later why he didn't published this title, Chopin answered: "Let them guess...".

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Op. 27 No. 1, Larghetto, in C Sharp Minor

Composed in 1834/35, published in 1836 , dedicated to countess d'Apponyi.

Also known as: "Les plaintives".

This one is clouded in a dark atmosphere, full of suspense and inner tension. The middle part is leading into a more triumphant mood.

Niecks considers these nocturnes of Opus 27 the best.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 27 No. 2

Composed in 1834/35, published in 1836 , dedicated to countess d'Apponyi.

This Nocturne begins with a serene melody of hypnotic beaty, floating over a sea of D-flat major harmony. Its development heightens the sense of drama, and the piece closes in waves of melting nostalgia. It is indeed supreme in its class of Parisian salon pieces, if not more.

Recording :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Op. 32 No. 1, Andantino sostenuto, in B Major

Composed in 1836/37, published in 1837 , dedicated to countess Camille de Billing-de courbonne.

Arthur Rubinstein had always ended this nocturne in major: "In the Debussy edition of Chopin, which I like, the B Major Nocturne ends with a major chord. In Chopin one shouldn't discuss such things. Chopin changed his works constantly......" - "I play the major chord becouse the minor chord weakens the ending: it weakens the whole theme."

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 32 No. 2, Lento, in A Flat Major

Composed in 1836/37, published in 1837 , dedicated to countess Camille de Billing-de courbonne.

Compared with previous nocturnes, the tempo in the middle secion remains the same and only the figuration change. The degree in contrast is therefore reduced.

Recording




Nocturne Op. 37 No. 1, Andante sostenuto, in G Minor

Composed in 1838/39, published in 1840.

Also known as "Les Soupirs".

This one is relatively 'simple' to play. The middle section is a strange choarale-like intermezzo in plain chordal writing.

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 37 No. 2, Andantino, in G Major

Composed in July of 1939, published in 1840.

The elegant theme, in parallel thirds and sexts, is presented in a surprising variety of keys, so that little sense of overall tonality remain. The middle section is a peaceful lullaby. Its composed just a few weeks after arriving at Nohant.

Guiomar Novaes said: "I find in those Nocturnes that you emphasize reflection, nostalgia, serenity, and a certain deep feeling."

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Op. 48 No. 1, Lento, in C Minor

Composed in october1841, published in 1841/42, dedicated to Laura Duperre.

This one reaches beyond the accepted domain of the Nocturne; its virtuoso piano writing are reminiscent of the Ballades.

Robert Shumann reviewed both Opus 48 Nocturnes, but his admiration was tinged with certain reservations.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 48 No. 2, Andantino, in F Sharp Minor

Composed in October of 1841, published in 1841/42, dedicated to Laura Duperre.

An 'endless melody' is played with restless triplets in the left hand.

Robert Shumann reviewed both Opus 48 Nocturnes, but his admiration was tinged with certain reservations.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1, Andante, in F Minor

Composed in october 1843, published in 1844, dedicated to Jane Stirling.

These Nocturnes of Opus 55 were not greeded by the superlatives that the early nocturnes attracted.

Guiomar Novaes: "...you play the second notes of the basses a little staccato, letting the pedal up. Rubinstein holds the pedal for each two bass notes."

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 55 No. 2, Lento, in E Flat Major

Composed in october 1843, published in 1844, dedicated to Jane Stirling.

These Nocturnes of Opus 55 were not greeded by the superlatives that the earlier nocturnes attracted.

Recording :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Op. 62 No. 1, Andante, in B Major (BI - 161)

Composed in october 1846, published in 1846, dedicated to R. de Konneritz.

For Kleczynski the nocturnes of Opus 62 where a evidence of an enfeebled creative power. Niecks however considers these nocturnes 'not worth dwelling upon'.

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne Op. 62 No. 2, Lento, in E Major (BI - 161)

Composed in october 1846, published in 1846, dedicated to R. de Konneritz.

For Kleczynski the nocturnes of Opus 62 where a evidence of an enfeebled creative power. Niecks however considers these nocturnes 'not worth dwelling upon'.

Leichtentritt described this nocturne as 'lacking the features of great artistry'.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music




Nocturne Post. 72 No. 1, Andante, in E Minor

Composed in 1827, published in 1855, dedicated to R. de Konneritz, (BI - 19)

This nocturne lies clearly within the Field tradition.

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music


Nocturne, Lento con gran espressione, in C Sharp Minor

Composed in spring 1830, published in 1875 (BI - 49)

This nocturne uses some themes from the F minor Concerto Opus 21. Tamas Vasary: "If you didn't know about the reminiscence, you would still have the impression that both works live in the same emotional climate."

Orazio Frugoni suggested a student having trouble with this Nocturne that she spend some time at night by the cathedral in Siena: "Yes it's very romantic. As human beings we get these impressions that feed our creativity; if not we simply shouldn't be artists."

Recording :: Sheet Music


Nocturne in C minor

Composed in 1837, published in 1938. (BI - 62)

This nocturne was published in 1938 (TWMP, Warsaw) together with the e flat minor Largo (BI109).

Midi Sequence :: Sheet Music



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