I imagine myself wandering over a frozen plain in a winter night, the stars twinkling above me, the moon light being reflected by the snow. Everything around me bathes in a blueish light and the leafless trees cast long, sharp shadows on the ground. And I hear Chopin’s “Nocturnes” (Night pieces). I am warmly dressed, wide awake, I breathe the cold air and I feel like walking, briskly, without a specific goal. I just want to walk and enjoy this mesmerizing music.
Alone, at peace
Can you understand this? You cannot listen to this music by daylight. It doesn’t work. The music doesn’t transmit its inherent magic at daylight. We are reaching the limits of a blog post: As so often, words fail me when I try to describe the thoughts and emotions that this music sets free while I listen to it at night, alone, at peace with myself. I sort of sink into the music and dissolve in it. No kidding. You will find out by yourself.
Frédéric Chopin was born in 1810 in Zelazow Wowa (Poland) and is probably the best known pianist and composer of piano music. He grew up in Warsaw, but settled down in Paris in 1831. He wrote the 21 Nocturnes between 1830 and 1846. He spent many evenings in his study at the piano, alone, a candle offering sufficient light to play and write. A perfect setting to write “the Nocturnes”. A perfect setting to write a blog about Chopin’s “Nocturnes”, but candles are banned from our study. A perfect setting to read this blog and listen to Chopin.
Inspired by John Field
Chopin’s initial inspiration came from the “Nocturnes” composed by the Irishman John Field. Field’s melodies attracted Chopin who had become more and more interested in lyrical forms of music. He was keen to explore new sound combinations and how they could be used to express different moods. And these 21 pieces are a stunning answer to his initial question.
The recording in my possession is the one by Elizabeth Sombart, recorded in 2012. Enjoy the night!
© Charles Thibo