CHOPIN Frédéric, Barcarolle in F sharp Op.60
The Barcarolle in F sharp, Op.60 was written in the summer of 1845. Chopin never went to Venice to hear an authentic barcarolle, but inspiration may have come from Mendelssohn’s Venetian Gondola Song which Chopin used to give his pupils to play. Described by the German musicologist Hugo Leichtentritt as ‘a work of bewildering beauty’, it was taken up by Chopin’s near-contemporaries such as Clara Schumann and Hans von Bülow. Carl Tausig – a Liszt pupil – even invented a fanciful programme for it in which two lovers met secretly in a gondola. Chopin’s wonderful exploration of piano colours and sonorities in the Barcarolle had a powerful appeal for later composers: Ravel described it as ‘magical’ while Olivier Messiaen declared that its rich and resonant piano writing influenced his own music – a century after Chopin.
© Nigel Simeone