Chopin – Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor – Music | History
Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, is a piano sonata in four movements. Chopin completed the work while living in George Sand’s manor in Nohant, some 250 km (160 mi) south of Paris, a year before it was published in 1840. The first of the composer’s three mature sonatas (the others being the Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 and the Sonata for Piano and Cello in G minor, Op. 65), the work is considered to be one of the greatest piano sonatas of the literature.
The third movement of the Piano Sonata No. 2 is Chopin’s famous funeral march (French: Marche funèbre) which was composed at least two years before the remainder of the work and has remained, by itself, one of Chopin’s most popular compositions. The Piano Sonata No. 2 carries allusions and reminiscences of music by Bach and by Beethoven; Beethoven’s twelfth piano sonata also has a funeral march as its third movement. A typical performance of Chopin’s second sonata lasts between 21 and 25 minutes, depending on whether the repetition of the first movement’s exposition is observed.
While the Piano Sonata No. 2 gained instant popularity with the public, critical reception was initially more doubtful. Robert Schumann, among other critics, argued that the work was structurally inferior and that Chopin “could not quite handle sonata form”, a criticism that did not withstand time. The work has been recorded by numerous pianists and is regularly programmed in concerts and piano competitions. The Marche funèbre exists in countless arrangements and is performed at funerals all over the world (including Chopin’s own funeral), having become an archetypal evocation of death.
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