When did Chopin compose his ballads?

The ballads - musical stories

The Polish ballad poet Adam Mickiewicz (an émigré in Paris who was friends with Chopin) inspired Chopin to write his four ballads, each of which tells a story.

This is supposed to have been entrusted to Chopin Schumann. What is true about it can hardly be verified today, although all Chopin researchers have always tried very hard to find out from Mickiewicz's poems those which Chopin's music could "fit" into. It has not succeeded to this day and would be completely pointless, because Chopin was not a literary musician, and his ballads are anything but program music, which contributes to their extraordinary and never-ending appeal.

Chopin was not overly interested in poetry and literature. And if he is supposed to have said something like that to Schumann, one can almost certainly assume with Chopisn Naturell that he has tied a bear to Schumann, whose music he did not appreciate and which he ultimately believed to be exaggerated and too literary he was only too happy to be untied.

The 4 ballads are unique in their purely musical musical drama and have not even come close to successors in terms of form and expressiveness. Liszt's two piano ballads, composed only after Chopisn's death and undoubtedly stimulated by his ballads, bear no comparison with them. The 4 Ballads op.10 by Brahms from 1854 are also poor works compared to the other piano works by the master. Above all, they are completely undramatic, which contradicts the concept of ballads, and their form is actually songs without words. Grieg's G minor ballad is a chain of endless, laborious variations on a Norwegian folk tune, and Debussy's ballad, an early work in the neat salon style of the turn of the century, without plastic rhythm and drama.

With his ballads, Chopin shaped a unique type of music, which to this day could neither be imitated nor reached in any other way, although countless other composers and musicians tried their hand at this form. They started with Chopin and ended with him.

Overview of the work analyzes of the ballads


  • "Chopin, the man, the artist", James Huneker
  • "Chopin - A Biography", Walter and Paula Rehberg
  • "Frédéric Chopin - A Musical Horoscope", Ludwig Kusche

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