Chopin's Piano Concerto No.1

Classical Music Datebook: October 11

Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in  E, Op. 11, premiered with the composer himself as soloist.

Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, was first performed on 11 October 1830, in Warsaw Theatre, Poland, with the composer himself as soloist, during one of his "farewell" concerts before leaving his native land.

It was the first of Chopin's two piano concerti to be published, and therefore given the designation of Piano Concerto "No. 1" at the time of publication. It was written immediately after what was later published, his famous Piano Concerto No. 2. 

Piano Concerto No. 1 is scored for solo piano, pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, tenor, trombone, timpani and strings.

The concerto contains three movements which was typical of the period:
  1. Allegro maestoso
  2. Romance - Larghetto
  3. Rondo - Vivace

This piece has been performed and recorded numerous times. Classical critics usually fall into two: the first group argues that given Chopin was a composer solely for the piano, the orchestral part of this piece acts more as a vehicle for him as a pianist; the other group of critics though suggests that the orchestral backing is carefully written to fit in with the piano, and the simplicity of arrangement is a deliberate contrast to the harmony's complexity.

Russian composer Mily Balakirev re-orchestrated the concerto, wrote arrangements for violin and orchestra, as well as for piano solo of the second movement, Romance - Larghetto movement.

Video Credit:

Martha Argerich - Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11 (2010), Youtube, uploaded by Max Lima.  Accessed October 11, 2013.  Jacek Kaspszyk, conductor;  Martha Argerich, piano; Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra.


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