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Chopin image

Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849)
Polonaise in A flat, op. 53
Autograph manuscript [1842]
The Dannie and Hettie Heineman Collection
Heineman MS 42

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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."

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.