Piano Sonata No. 2 (Chopin)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Frédéric Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, popularly known as The Funeral March, was completed in 1839 at Nohant, near Châteauroux in France. However, the third movement, whence comes the sonata's common nickname, had been composed as early as 1837.

The sonata consists of four movements.

  1. Grave; Doppio movimento
  2. Scherzo
  3. Marche funèbre: Lento
  4. Finale: Presto

Contents

Funeral March

As noted above, the 3rd movement is structured as a funeral march played with a Lento interlude. While the term "funeral march" is perhaps a fitting description of the 3rd movement, complete with the Lento interlude in D flat major, when the "Chopin Funeral March" is actually played (typically by a brass ensemble) in a funeral procession, only the part in B flat minor is used. This "funeral march" adapted for brass as described, has become well known in popular culture. It was also used at the state funerals of John F. Kennedy and those of Soviet leaders, including Leonid Brezhnev. It was transcribed for full orchestra by the English composer Sir Edward Elgar in 1933 and its first performance was at his own memorial concert the next year. It was played at the graveside during Chopin's own burial at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris. The theme song of WWE Wrestler The Undertaker uses the funeral march as a major part of his theme.

Influences

The sonata's opening bars allude to Beethoven's last piano sonata, Op. 111. The basic sequence of scherzo, funeral march with trio, and animated, resolving finale, repeats that of Beethoven's sonata in A-flat major, Op. 26. Chopin's first movement, however, is animated and in sonata form, unlike Beethoven's Andante con variazioni. Chopin was known to have admired these two sonatas of Beethoven's.

Satie

Erik Satie, in the second movement ("of an Edriophthalma") of his "Embryons desséchés" uses a variation on the Funeral March's theme.

Further Reading

  • In his book The Romantic Generation (1995, Harvard University Press), Charles Rosen discusses in great detail many features of this sonata.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Piano Sonata No. 2 (Chopin)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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