Hello Piano Fans! We’re going to turn Chopin Inside Out today. First give a listen to this Etude – Op.10 No.1 in C major:

Quite nice, isn’t it? These Chopin etudes are little studies of specific pieces of technique, and this one is, as you can tell, for the right hand to quickly play broken chords (arpeggios) going up and down. The trick with this Etude is to not have your right thumb clumping about and lumping up the arpeggios; the goal is “smoothness.”

Well, then along comes this chap Leopold Godowski.

He’s a musical evil genius! He loved Chopin’s music so much that he set about making all sorts of studies of it. Here’s what Godowski did with the same Etude above:

WILD! He makes both hands do the arpeggios, and in oblique motion for the first part of the arpeggios, then in common motion for the second part.

That is an order of magnitude in increasing the difficulty!

A consequence of that is that Godowski transcriptions just aren’t played very much, as delightful as they are. Chopin is quite nice as is, thankyewverramuch, and us mere mortals have enough of a time playing compositions the way they are. But certainly Godowski’s contributions are worthwhile when you hear them played well.


Kelly Canfield

Kelly Canfield