The Ballades of Chopin

Zimmerman plays Ballade No. 1

Zimmerman playing Ballade No. 4

Chopin's Four Ballades for The Piano

Below every Ballade you'll find a 'youtube' link for your enjoyment pleasure. In the case of the Ballade No. 3, you'll be able to see me perform the finale of this very famous work for piano solo...

The Ballades of Chopin - Chopin is considered one of the most important composers for the piano that has ever lived. Some have said, Chopin's piano solo music ranks second most important only to Beethoven's 32 Piano Sonatas...

Chopin was not as interested in ascribing or fusing literature to music like many of his contemporaries were (e.g., The music of Schumann, Liszt and Berlioz...), but he was one of music's greatest poets by reason of refined imagination and polished craftsmanship...

Chopin's four piano Ballades are a must for anyone interested in pursuing a concert career, as well as a must hear for anyone new to the world of classical music. These four concert works for piano solo are played on a regular basis by concert artists everywhere, as well as advanced piano students in general. As stated previously, these compositions are among the most important written for the instrument.

Ballade No. 1 in G minor, op. 23 composed between 1835 - 1836

This is currently Chopin's most famous Ballade. Written in Paris when Chopin was very young and starting out. It has some of the compositional techniques that Chopin would make use of later on in his more mature compositions for the piano. It's melodious, yet futuristic at the same time. This piece is performed quite often these days by young artists, so it has become something of a cliché, even if it's quite lovely... Zimerman does an incredible job performing it - here he is...

Ballade No. 2 in F major, op. 38 composed between 1836 - 1839

This is arguably the most important and futuristic of all the four Ballades, even if it has never really taken off with the public like the No. 1 or No. 3 have... The work is atrociously difficult to perform by even the greatest amongst concert pianists. Chopin dedicated the work to his friend and contemporary Robert Schumann. Schumann was one the first composers that commented on Chopin's genius (Schumann was involved in journalism and wrote for a newspaper at the time) by saying the now famous phrase "hats off gentlemen" in reference to Chopin and his music...

Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, op. 47 composed in 1841

This was once Chopin's most famous and arguably most beautiful of all his Ballades. This work was so overly played years ago, that people eventually got bored of it and now it is the No. 1 which gets overly performed by young artists trying to impress... This is I playing the finale at the piano in a very informal home recording I recently made - enjoy!

Ballade No. 4 in F minor, op. 52 composed in 1842

This is Chopin at his best and most difficult. Chopin's most technnically challenging Ballade of all alongside the No. 2 - it's also the longest in duration. The Ballade No. 4 shows Chopin at his most mature. Chopin was a master of improvisation and knew how to build up thematic material as can be seeing from how he he builds up the work's main theme throughout the entire composition from the first note to the last...

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Comments 12 comments

KatrineDalMonte 5 years ago

Hi, thanks, nice article, brief but informative :-)

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hello Katrine,

I see you just joined 7 hours ago. Welcome to HP, hope to see you around. And thanks for commenting on my artice!

Prosperous New Year


Theocharis V profile image

Theocharis V 5 years ago from Piraeus, Greece

Nice hub, but I hate Chopin. Every time I was going to give exams for my piano lessons, I had to study at least 2-3 of him. He had become a synonymous of exams. I am going to check your Beethoven hub now. I got depressed even by seeing his name. Nice hub though! Voting this up.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thanks for commenting Theocharis, truly appreciated...

I love Chopin, but there are some (very few) out there such as yourself who do not... I think it's refreshing and unique that you do not, however, most do, and I happen to be one of them...

Take care and God Bless


Derdriu 4 years ago

John, What a savvy, scintillating, succinct presentation of Chopin's ballades! In particular, you do a great job on anecdotes situating each piece within the composer's professional life. As for me, I appreciate all four, but most particularly the second and fourth, precisely because of their musical challenges. Additionally, it's fascinating watching your expert fingering through the third.

Thank you for sharing, voted up + all,


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thanks Derdriu!

...I love Chopin...what can I say that hasn't already been said about him?...

Take care


jamila sahar profile image

jamila sahar 4 years ago

greetings john,

as a pianist, i recognize the importance of the ballades in the keyboard literature, and have worked on the g minor. i find it is a fascinating composition as well as being extremely technically challenging. not just because of the difficult passages, but because of the phrasing, particularly after the short intro and the 'exposition' if you will of the first theme group. i worked tirelessly on these passages for hours and after some time felt i was beginning to get the phrasing just right. i had to put this piece on the backburner for awhile due to a performance injury, but hope to get back to it in the future. i love the ferocious ending and that short section right before that dreadful coda begins. the fouth ballade is quite difficult as you mentioned, but that haunting melody of chopin's is so mesmerizing. thank you for this lovely hub about the poet of the piano's large scale works of the ballades.

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Thanks jamila...

Yes, Chopin and Beethoven are two of the giants of music, no argument there.

Take care and God Bless


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi John,

For years we had season tickets for the Houston Symphony but then got so busy that we now only purchase individual tickets when we wish to attend. We love classical music! It was a pleasure watching you play a portion of Chopin. Wish I knew how to play the piano like that! It must give you such pleasure! Thanks for this informative hub. Up votes!

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

Hi Peggy,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I was quite impressed by your hub on Chopin as well. You know, Sand played such an important role in his life. She was one of the great female intellectuals of the 19th Century---hands down! I'm told she had affairs with many, including: Liszt, Chopin and even Flaubert.

Take care and thanks again for commenting on my hub


franciscohernande 6 weeks ago

I don´t know all about his music but the song that I have listened to,

I love his music!

Love from Mexico!

John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 11 days ago from Los Angeles, CA Author

I'm glad you enjoyed Chopin's music

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