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I'm wondering what everyone thinks is the most "important" genre of Chopin's. I think this is more difficult than any other composer, because Chopin has so many different genres that all are interesting.

My choice would have to be the Ballades. They're the most consistent and revolutionary (the form is so awesome). I'm not a huge fan of miniatures so the Preludes don't do it for me, but the Ballades are concise, grand and tell stories as vivid as Beethoven's best sonatas.


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Interesting question!

Depending on what one feels "important" means, a case could easily be made for either the Ballades or the Etudes.

However, for me it would be the Polonaises -- because they were what drew me to Chopin and in fact what drew me seriously to classical music and wanting to play the piano seriously at all.

So, my answer is, for me, the most important is the Polonaises. Easy pick.
If I had to say "in general," I'd say it's a tie between the Ballades and Etudes.

If the criterion were, if you could have just one of Chopin's kind of pieces for being stranded on a desert island, it would be the Preludes.
So, that's my desert island "most important" answer: Preludes. grin

And that's not even the end of it. If the 1st Sonata weren't what it is, or if there were no 1st sonata, the sonatas might be my Desert Island pick.

I know that in those last parts there, I'm sort of merging from "important" to something else. But hey, if you're stranded on a desert island, music is important. ha

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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Interesting question!

Depending on what one feels "important" means, a case could easily be made for either the Ballades or the Etudes.

However, for me it would be the Polonaises -- because they were what drew me to Chopin and in fact what drew me seriously to classical music and wanting to play the piano seriously at all.

So, my answer is, for me, the most important is the Polonaises. Easy pick.
If I had to say "in general," I'd say it's a tie between the Ballades and Etudes.

If the criterion were, if you could have just one of Chopin's kind of pieces for being stranded on a desert island, it would be the Preludes.
So, that's my desert island "most important" answer: Preludes. grin

And that's not even the end of it. If the 1st Sonata weren't what it is, or if there were no 1st sonata, the sonatas might be my Desert Island pick.

I know that in those last parts there, I'm sort of merging from "important" to something else. But hey, if you're stranded on a desert island, music is important. ha
I was not expecting the Polonaises! I am not extremely familiar with them, so I can't comment much but it might be the least famous collection of Chopin.

I like your formatting better, so I'll clarify.

Most important to me: Waltzes. They're the reason I came back to the piano and began to take it seriously.
In General: Etudes or Ballades
Desert Island: Ballades for general enjoyment, Nocturnes if I plan to starve to death (probably the perfect soundtrack for that vibe).


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Desert island: nocturnes. I can listen to the entire set, one after the other, snd never tire of them.
Generally most important (but not for the desert island). Ballades


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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I'll go with the mazurkas. Yes, they are miniature, but as a whole set, they contain, on a small scale, all the elements that are unique to Chopin. One could argue that the preludes fulfill that role, and are more virtuosic, but in terms of harmonic inventiveness (which I find to be more essential than virtuosity) the mazurkas vastly surpass the preludes.

As for my desert island genre, I'd go with the Ballades.

And if I have to choose one desert island single piece, I'll let you guess which one. Hint: look at my profile.


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"Most important" is purely subjective and also depends on each person's definition of "important"(which is totally unclear in this context...what makes one genre more important?). IMO a more interesting question would be favorite genre(which some posters seem to have used as their definition of "important"), again totally subjective.

As is clear from the different replies so far, there is no answer to the OPs question. There is only each person's very personal and completely subjective opinion.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 01/18/22 08:26 AM.
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
"Most important" is purely subjective and also depends on each person's definition of "important"(which is totally unclear in this context...what makes one genre more important?). IMO a more interesting question would be favorite genre(which some posters seem to have used as their definition of "important"), again totally subjective.

As is clear from the different replies so far, there is no answer to the OPs question. There is only each person's very personal and completely subjective opinion.

Of course the question is subjective with personal opinion responses. You don’t need to revise the question—- we all get it. Why don’t you share your choices?

Last edited by dogperson; 01/18/22 09:12 AM.

"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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For me the Etudes are an encyclopaedia of his piano writing style, and are his most valuable collection because of it.

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Casting my mind back over all the writings I've read over the decades by musicologists and other commentators assessing Chopin's musical oeuvre, by far the majority single out the mazurkas as his most quintessentially representative expressive genre. Certainly, they constitute the most important of his contributions to the overall gamut of Western musical genres, for the simple reason that the mazurka as we recognize it was unknown before Chopin began composing his, just as the nocturne as a distinguishable expressive style originates with Field's compositions bearing that title, and are thus ranked above his concerti and other genre-specific compositions as his most important contributions.

Obviously, defining "importance" of a genre on the basis of its historical novelty vis-a-vis the general ongoing emerging of genres is altogether narrow as a ranking criterion, and is beside the point when it comes to experiencing the weightiness of the musical substance to be found in the diverse genres that Chopin (or Field, or any other composer who comes to mind) repeatedly composed in. In Chopin's case, each one of the genres for which he is most often remembered - the waltzes, mazurkas, polonaises, nocturnes, ballades, scherzi, impromptus, etudes, sonatas and concerti - inspired him to imagine musical substance unique in its aesthetic feel and expressive means in respect of each individual piece representing them. It is hard for me to think of any succession of sounds of his of a stereotyped, purely humdrum nature, of any that defies my ability to imagine a time in history when those passages didn't already exist. So, as regards their importance relative to each other, his works are impossible for me to rank or in any other way pigeon-hole. But that is not to say that I am equally attracted to, captivated by and find structurally convincing all of his works in all genres! (I can only say that of the etudes, all of which strike me as uniformly flawless musical creations).


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Such neat replies!!

About this little quiz here:

Originally Posted by Rubens
....And if I have to choose one desert island single piece, I'll let you guess which one. Hint: look at my profile.

Oh -- at your profile!
At first glance I thought you meant your user name, which I thought would have meant some big piece for Rubinstein, which could have been a lot of things....

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
"Most important" is purely subjective and also depends on each person's definition of "important"(which is totally unclear in this context...what makes one genre more important?). IMO a more interesting question would be favorite genre(which some posters seem to have used as their definition of "important"), again totally subjective.

As is clear from the different replies so far, there is no answer to the OPs question. There is only each person's very personal and completely subjective opinion.

+1


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Originally Posted by 13bwl
[...]I was not expecting the Polonaises! I am not extremely familiar with them, so I can't comment much but it might be the least famous collection of Chopin.

[...]

I cannot agree that the Polonaises are the "least famous collection" among the works of Chopin!

Regards,


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For me it would be the Nocturnes or Mazurkas because they span the longest series (in composition time) of works that Chopin made, so they give us insight into Chopin's development as a composer. Incidentally, my favorite to listen to and play is the Nocturnes so... :P

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Originally Posted by BruceD
I cannot agree that the Polonaises are the "least famous collection" among the works of Chopin!

Yes.
They even might be the most famous.

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If we consider the three big polonaises as a set then there may be some argument to consider them as the most representative of the breadth of Chopin's style. Personally I'd still go with the mazurkas though.


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by 13bwl
[...]I was not expecting the Polonaises! I am not extremely familiar with them, so I can't comment much but it might be the least famous collection of Chopin.

[...]

I cannot agree that the Polonaises are the "least famous collection" among the works of Chopin!

Regards,
I don't know. Maybe among pianists they're famous but I haven't heard them performed or spoken about as much as any of the others (Waltzes, Mazurki, Scherzi, Ballady, etc.). I don't say that to diminish their quality. What would you think is less famous?


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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by BruceD
I cannot agree that the Polonaises are the "least famous collection" among the works of Chopin!

Yes.
They even might be the most famous.
I feel like I'm missing something? Among Chopin works I only really think the Op. 53 and Op. 40/1 are really "famous" the way that the op 64/1&2 are, or op 9/2 or 10/3 etc. This is also pretty dependent on where you live and there isn't really a way to quantify it, but I really cannot see how the Polonaises are better known than especially the Etudes or Nocturnes.


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Originally Posted by 13bwl
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by BruceD
I cannot agree that the Polonaises are the "least famous collection" among the works of Chopin!

Yes.
They even might be the most famous.
I feel like I'm missing something? Among Chopin works I only really think the Op. 53 and Op. 40/1 are really "famous" the way that the op 64/1&2 are, or op 9/2 or 10/3 etc. This is also pretty dependent on where you live and there isn't really a way to quantify it, but I really cannot see how the Polonaises are better known than especially the Etudes or Nocturnes.
The Polonaises Op. 44 and Op. 61 are very popular, performed a lot, and considered among Chopin's greatest works.

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Maybe my impression of the 'fame' of the Polonaises is based on an earlier time and doesn't apply any more.

When I was first getting into piano, the "Military" and "Heroic" Polonaises (Op. 40 #1 and Op. 53) especially were everywhere, and among people who weren't particularly into piano or even at all into classical music, not infrequently the Opus 53 was one of the few pieces of classical music they knew of, almost at the level of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. There was a popular song from the 1940's that was based on that polonaise, which may have been the main thing that gave the piece such fame, and also there was the Chopin biopic, "Song to Remember," which was well known and which had the piece somewhat as its theme song.

AND, besides Op. 40 #1, several of the other earlier polonaises were very, very frequently studied and played by intermediate piano students: Op. 26 #1 and #2, and Op. 40 #2.

Maybe all of this has faded over the years without my noticing....

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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
"Most important" is purely subjective and also depends on each person's definition of "important"(which is totally unclear in this context...what makes one genre more important?). IMO a more interesting question would be favorite genre(which some posters seem to have used as their definition of "important"), again totally subjective.

As is clear from the different replies so far, there is no answer to the OPs question. There is only each person's very personal and completely subjective opinion.

Of course the question is subjective with personal opinion responses. You don’t need to revise the question
+1

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