Polonaise in A flat, op. 53
Autograph manuscript 
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection
The classic polonaise originated in Poland at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Although many composers wrote polonaises, Chopin's are surely the best known and, for many, define the genre. Pianists who ignore Chopin's "Maestoso"—a mark governing both tempo and expression—should be reminded of the composer's own words on the subject. Sir Charles Hallé, the English pianist and conductor, wrote in his autobiography: "I remember how, on one occasion, in his gentle way, Chopin laid his hand upon my shoulder, saying how unhappy he felt, because he had heard his 'Grande Polonaise' in A flat jouée vite!, thereby destroying all the grandeur, the majesty, of this noble inspiration."