Chopin's Music & Stories by Kayo

“24 Etudes – Chopin’s philosophy”


12 Etudes Op.10 (33:29)
12 Etudes Op.25 (35:28)
          (Total 68:57)





Chopin is better known as a wonderful pianist rather than a composer. He was widely recognized for his flawless technique, but it was the music itself that firmly stood at the root of his unique performances. At the age of twenty he composed the 24 Etudes Op. 10 and Op. 25. More than mere drills, these are fine pieces of art.

The theme of each of the Etudes is a single technique essential to performing piano music. However, they do not focus solely on technique, and so do not require mindless, mechanical repetition. They are a yet another musical form, and by bringing up challenging techniques, they contain hints to efficient learning. Chopin not only teaches us how and why each technique is used, he also shows us their beauty. It is truly remarkable how by simply demonstrating the tools of the trade, he introduces us to a yet unseen way of using them, and using only these basic tools eventually builds a wonderful castle for us to see.

Performing and composing were not Chopin’s only interests. He was also a keen teacher. It is said that he conducted lessons using two instruments, so that he could demonstrate concepts by playing himself. Chopin developed a teaching method fundamentally different from that prevailing in his day. He even attempted writing a practice book of his own. It includes his definition of music, and also explains musical notation and construction of the piano. One can feel his affection for the instrument. He speaks harshly of the contemporary teaching methods: “For a long time we have opposed nature by practicing fingers to play with even strength. But since each finger has a different shape, it is best not to diminish the grace of each finger’s unique touch, but on the contrary – develop it further”.

Is it not a philosophy that can be applied to everyday life? By playing the Etudes, I feel the profound depth of Chopin’s music.

January 2015
Kayo Nishimizu



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