Chopin’s Mazurka in A Minor Op. 17, No 4: Evgeny Kissin

Frédéric Chopin’s Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4 inhabits the ephemeral world of dreams.

Emerging out of silence, the opening bars are hazy and harmonically ambiguous. They contain a rising three-note cell which searches for the “right” note and soon spins into a melody. It is music which seems to be composing itself in realtime. Traditionally, the mazurka is a lively Polish folk dance in triple meter, with strong accents placed randomly on the second or third beat of the measure. In contrast, Chopin’s A minor Mazurka resembles a nocturne. It is a waltz filled with the deepest pathos, loneliness, and melancholy. At moments, surges of passion bring florid embellishments. The middle section of the piece shifts into major and features a conversation between voices. It is a happy daydream which evaporates with a sudden dissonant intrusion. The quiet despair of the coda section is heightened by a sinking chromatic line. The piece ends as it began. It fades away, virtually unresolved, as a fleeting dream.

This is the fourth and final piece in the Op. 17 set. Chopin composed this music in Paris between 1832 and 1833. The twentieth century Polish composer, Henryk Gorecki, quoted the A minor Mazurka in the opening of the third movement of his Symphony No.3, Op.36 “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.” Additionally, it appears in John Williams score for the 1987 film, Empire Of The Sun.

This performance, featuring Evgeny Kissin, was recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1994:


  • Chopin: Mazurka in A minor, Op. 17, No. 4, Evgeny Kissin Amazon

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

1 thought on “Chopin’s Mazurka in A Minor Op. 17, No 4: Evgeny Kissin”

  1. Just amazing that we actually have a photograph of Frederick Chopin… this mazurka is one of his best, most haunting pieces. I remember hearing Kissin perform in Seattle right when he broke onto the scene and was the talk of the town. Lovely combo Timothy.


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