Evening Masterwork: Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1

Piano Concerto No. 1 in e-minor, Op. 11 by Frederic Chopin

Evening Masterwork for July 10, 2019 – 7:00 PM on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9

It’s a bit absurd now to imagine having to defend Chopin’s two astounding piano concertos, but early on in the 20th century, the works were coming under fire. One critic wrote that the concertos were “not Chopin at his very best,” and even said of the Concerto No. 1 that it was “too much in the nature of a technical study.”

The composer was only 20 when he composed the Piano Concerto No. 1, and at the time he was just as much, probably even more so, known as a virtuoso pianist than he was a composer. Indeed, the two piano concertos were very much intended to be virtuosic showpieces, and Chopin’s general disinterest in symphonic writing may have resulted in a less-than-stellar accompaniment. Like Chopin the pianist and composer, the solo piano part commands center stage.