This week you will be listening to music written by Frederic Chopin, a Polish composer who lived from 1810-1849. While most composers write music for a variety of different instruments and musical ensembles, Chopin’s creative energies were directed nearly exclusively onto the piano. And how fortunate we are that this instrument so inspired him!
The piece you will be listening to is called the Fantasie-Impromptu and is one of Chopin’s most beloved compositions. It was written in 1835 but never published. After his death Chopin’s sister finally gave approval to have it published even though Chopin had wished otherwise.
There are some interesting similarities between the Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven and Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu. Both are written in the key of C#minor and two measures into Chopin’s composition there is an exact quotation from the 3rd movement of the Moonlight Sonata. One musical scholar, by the name of Ernst Oster wrote this about the quotation: “Chopin understood Beethoven to a degree that no one who has written on the C-sharp minor Sonata or the Fantaisie-Impromptu has ever understood him. … The Fantaisie-Impromptu is perhaps the only instance where one genius discloses to us — if only by means of a composition of his own — what he actually hears in the work of another genius.” Also, in the slow section of the Fantasie the piece changes to Db Major ( enharmonic spelling of C#) which is the same key used by Beethoven in the second movement of the Moonlight Sonata. Another interesting bit of trivia regarding this piece, is that the beautiful melody from the middle section was taken from a popular Vaudeville song called, “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.” How do you think these two works (Moonlight Sonata and Fantasie-Impromptu) are similar and how are they different?