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Episode 105: Chopin Tries, Tries Again

Fantasy on Polish Airs in A Major, Op. 13

rc-tries-tries-200On an icy-cold day in 1829, Fryderyk Chopin and a friend were travelling when their carriage became stuck in the snow. They were un-stuck by local peasants, who took them to a nearby inn so they could change horses.

As the “Musical Record” noted in 1886, upon entering the inn, “…Chopin flew to the piano, and striking a few chords exclaimed joyfully, 'Santa Cecilia, the piano is in tune!'”

He played the piano part of his “Fantasy on Polish Airs” as the peasants watched in delight; when they learned the horses were ready to go, his audience – including the inkeeper – begged him to finish the piece before leaving.

Chopin gave his first “adult” concert in Warsaw the next year, on March 17th of 1830. It was at the National Theatre, and on the program were movements of his E minor Piano Concerto, and to end the concert, his “Fantasy on Polish Airs”

The crowd enjoyed the concerto, but, as Chopin himself put it: “The pot-pourri of Polish Airs missed its object entirely. There was indeed some applause, but evidently only to show the player that the audience had not been bored…”

One of the complaints from reviewers and audience members, as he would hear all too often, was that he played too softly.

But a week after his Warsaw debut, armed with a louder piano from Vienna, he played the same pieces, this time with great success – and the opus 13 "Fantasy on Polish Airs" was included in his third Warsaw concert later that year, when Chopin wrote: “This time I understood myself, the orchestra understood me, and the audience understood us.” - Jeffrey Freymann-Weyr


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Radio Chopin Episode 105: Chopin Tries, Tries Again

Fantasy on Polish Airs in A Major, Op. 13

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