Classical Music | Piano Music

Frédéric Chopin

Grande Valse Brillante in E-flat Major, Op. 18  Play

Bill-John Newbrough Piano

Recorded on 08/12/2008, uploaded on 01/08/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

The waltz was somewhat foreign to Chopin’s Polish nature. During the brief time he spent in Vienna before moving on to Paris, he wrote in a letter to his parents, “I have acquired nothing of that which is specifically Viennese by nature, and accordingly I am still unable to play waltzes.”  Nevertheless, this did not stop him from gaining a proficiency in their composition or from producing charming melodies that could rival those of Strauss. Over the course of his career, he composed at least twenty waltzes though only five were published in his lifetime. Unlike earlier Viennese waltzes, Chopin’s were intended for the concert stage instead of to accompany the dance.

The Grande Valse Brillante in E-flat major was composed in 1833 and the first of Chopin’s waltzes to be published. Opening with an introductory fanfare-like rhythm on a single B-flat, the waltz then begins with a lilting tune in E-flat major which in turn is followed by a second strain with a prominent repeated-note figure. The first section of the waltz closes in the subdominant key. Maintaining this subdominant relationship, the second section changes to the key of D-flat major and with it presents a wealth of new melodic material. Passing through the relative minor, the second section eventually comes to a close in the key of G-flat major, which is used as the pivotal point upon which to return to the tonic key of E-flat. The fanfare-like rhythm of the introduction returns hesitantly but then arrives in force, leading to the return of the first section. In the coda, a rising scalar passage accompanied by a gradual increase in tempo signals the arrival of the end. Having reached the upper ranges of the keyboard, the music begins to die away with filigree around the tonic triad. Fortissimo tonic chords conclude the waltz.    Joseph DuBose

Listeners' Comments        (You have to be logged in to leave comments)

This wonderful piece brings back memories of my mother playing this piece while as a young child I played with my toys. I remember that my mother liked the piece as she played it often. Mr. Newbrough's timing choices are right on I think. The pauses are much of what makes the piece so interesting.

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