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Length: c. 8 minutes

About this Piece

In his published review of the Second Ballade, Robert Schumann recalled that Chopin credited the works of the Polish nationalist poet Adam Mickiewicz as being an inspiration. This is not to suggest that Chopin drew a literal programmatic storyline from any of the poet’s work, but rather that the bardic tone of the poetry inspired the turbulent emotional currents in the Ballades. In fact, Schumann goes on to clarify, “[Chopin’s] music would inspire a poet to write words to it.”

Chopin died at the age of 39, so all of his works necessarily are those of a relatively young man, but the Ballades, completed between 1836 and 1842, are products of the composer’s maturity.

In the Second Ballade, dedicated to Schumann after its completion in 1839, a tender beginning, a gentle rocking motive, is shattered by crazed outbursts. The ending recalls the beginning, with no illusions of innocence. –Grant Hiroshima