Chopin Scherzo No 1 in B Minor

The Chopin Scherzos place extraordinary demands on the player. Although the word Scherzo means joke, these pieces are anything but; they are highly dramatic works.

The very opening of the Chopin Scherzo No 1 in B minor demonstrates the drama inherent in this music. Written in 1832 when Chopin was 25, this is the young Chopin at his most furious and passionate. Two dramatic chords announce the piece, followed by swirling arpeggios in the tonic of B Minor, each one more reaching and intense than the previous. After a brief respite, the arpeggios continue, building into a huge climax on a diminshed seventh chord. The whole sequence then repeats istelf.

The middle section of the Chopin Scherzo No 1 is a beautiful lullaby based on a Polish Christmas song. The melody is heard in the middle register, with the accompaniment in the left hand and upper right hands. The two crashing chords following this melody announce the return of the fury, and the scherzo reaches a massive climax in the coda.

The coda to Chopin's Scherzo no 1 is based on material from the main section, with arpeggios up and down the entire keyboard. A massive suspension occurs on the dominant of B Minor with the repetition of nine chords fortissimo. These resolve onto the tonic with some more furious passagework followed by the final chromatic scale ending on the tonic. The scherzo comes to an end on a plagal cadence (IV-I).

Listen to Chopin's Scherzo No 1 in B Minor played by Jonathan Oshry




©2010 Jonathan Oshry • joshry@hotmail.com