Chopin – Mazurka in D major, B 71 – Music | History
Over the years 1825–1849, Frédéric Chopin wrote at least 59 mazurkas for piano, based on the traditional Polish dance:
• 58 have been published
o 45 during Chopin’s lifetime, of which 41 have opus numbers
o 13 posthumously, of which 8 have posthumous opus numbers
• 11 further mazurkas are known whose manuscripts are either in private hands (2) or untraced (at least 9).
The serial numbering of the 58 published mazurkas normally goes only up to 51. The remaining 7 are referred to by their key or catalogue number.
Chopin’s composition of these mazurkas signaled new ideas of nationalism.
Chopin based his mazurkas on the traditional Polish folk dance, also called the mazurka (or “mazur” in Polish). However, while he used the traditional mazurka as his model, he was able to transform his mazurkas into an entirely new genre, one that became known as a “Chopin genre”.
Chopin started composing his mazurkas in 1825, and continued composing them until 1849, the year of his death. The number of mazurkas composed in each year varies, but he was steadily writing them throughout this time period.
Since Chopin’s mazurkas connect to the already established traditional Polish mazurka, some of the characteristics of the genre remain the same in his interpretation. For example, both the traditional mazurka and Chopin’s version contain a great deal of repetition. This can mean repetition of a single measure or small group of measures, repetition of a theme, or even repetition of an entire section. This repetition makes sense in the traditional dance for the repeat of a certain section of the actual dance; even though Chopin did not compose his mazurkas so they could be danced to, it is clear Chopin kept the original form in mind. Furthermore, many of the rhythmic patterns of the traditional mazurka also appear in Chopin’s compositions so they still convey the idea of a dance, but a more “self-contained, stylized dance piece.” In keeping with this idea, Chopin did try to make his mazurkas more technically interesting by furthering their chromaticism and harmony, along with using classical techniques, such as counterpoint and fugues. In fact, Chopin used more classical techniques in his mazurkas than in any of his other genres. One of these techniques is four part harmony in the manner of a chorale.