I've played the piano since I was ten years old (that's about 200 years, give or take). I have a large musical repertoire. I've seldom met a piano composition that I didn't like.
I found this old video the other day, stored in the dusty archives of my personal piano rehearsal tapes. When I watched it, the music immediately annoyed me - - as it unfortunately always has. My negative opinion hasn't softened over the years.
Note: I was pushing fifty when I made this tape and was out of practice.
I'm talking about the infamous Polonaise Militaire (Military Polonaise) in A major, Op. 40 No. 1, by Frederic Chopin (1810-1849).
In essence, it's a polonaise in the style of a military march.
Chopin's piano music is brilliant - - actually extraordinary. His keyboard innovations were revolutionary. I love all of his compositions. When I was a music student in Los Angeles I studied most of his etudes, preludes, ballades, nocturnes, mazurkas. And a fair number of the polonaises.
BUT (here's the inevitable "but".....)
Of the two dozen (give or take) polonaises that Chopin wrote, the Military Polonaise has always been my least favorite. In fact, it's my least favorite of all of Chopin's piano compositions. There are times when it actually irks the hell out of me.
It's not only brash and brazen, it has absolutely no modulation of tone and no variation of style.
For the layman, that means it's too damn loud and too structurally boring. And - with all of the endless repeats - it seemingly goes on forever. And I mean for-ever.
Incidentally, I play all of the repeats - - exactly as Chopin intended them.
It's the only piano composition I can think of that is marked Forte (meaning "loud") throughout - with no contrasting tones - and it crescendos to an ear-piercing triple Forte in places. It's definitely loud and long.
Are there any redeeming aspects?
It's fun to play. I enjoy performing it. It's not particularly complicated or difficult - - but you have to have large hands, lots of energy, and plenty of pianistic technique. It's a cacophony in octaves.
An octave is a span of eight keys - which most pianists can easily execute (I hate that word) . I have large hands. I can very comfortably reach a span of ten keys. And, when I'm in practice, I can span eleven keys with my right hand and twelve with my left.
Are you impressed?
I didn't think so.
I was initially hesitant to post this particular video on YouTube. After careful consideration, however, I figured I had nothing to lose.
If it annoys you, don't blame me. Blame Chopin.
The only known photo of Frederic Chopin,
taken in 1849 - the year of his death from tuberculosis.