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About this Piece

The nocturne, literally a “night piece,” was the invention of the Irish pianist and composer John Field, but Chopin established the genre as a fixture in Romantic piano literature. The Nocturne in D-flat of Op. 27 may be the definitive example of the melancholy songfulness of these pieces (Chopin published 18 during his lifetime). But as we know, the night is never a time for uninterrupted calm. Indications in the score may begin with dolce (sweetly), but in the turbulent middle sections there are calls for forte and fortissimo and appassionato.

In September 1835, Chopin visited Leipzig and the home of the noted piano teacher Friedrich Wieck, father of the young pianist who would become Clara Schumann. (Then just turned 16, she had already been playing Chopin’s music for several years.) There Chopin met Robert Schumann for the first time, and Felix Mendelssohn. Chopin played the D-flat nocturne, much impressing Mendelssohn, who wrote to his sister Fanny that Chopin “has also such a lovely new notturno, a considerable part of which I learnt by ear…” —excerpted from notes by John Henken and Grant Hiroshima