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Episode 20: Chopin's Drinking Song

Hulanka Op. 74, No. 4

rc-drinking-song-200What words would you use to describe Chopin and his music? Odds are “boisterous” isn’t one of them. But the “poet of the piano” who wore silk cravats, required a cushioned saddle for his donkey and purchased train tickets for his feet knew a thing or two about cutting loose...and he composed a song that proves it.

Chopin’s Hulanka is brassy and brazen. It’s a drinking song. Chopin was 20 when he wrote it for friends. Little did he know that at the cusp of the 21st century, a sleek bottle of vodka made from seven pounds of Polish potatoes would be introduced in North America using his name, signature, portrait and reputation as marketing tools.

The bottle’s label reads, “Frederic Chopin transformed the subtleties of the Polish spirit into enchanting, emotional music. That same passion is found in Chopin Vodka.” Though it’s unlikely the vodka’s marketers had this particular piece in mind, the song's lyrics surely support the double meaning in the motto printed on the bottle: “Chopin is the spirit of Poland”.

So what if you can barely walk.
What's the disgrace in that?
When your wife shouts you won't hear her;
You'll be out cold on the floor!

Drink down or feel my fist!
Hey, lass, over here!
Just serve us, don’t entice us!
Pour us some beer!

- Jennifer Foster

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Radio Chopin Episode 20: Chopin's Drinking Song

Hulanka, Op. 74, No. 4

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