Chopin - Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Frédéric Chopin composed his Scherzo No. 4 in E major, Op. 54, the fourth and the last of his scherzos in 1842. The scherzo was published in 1843. Unlike the preceding three scherzi (Op. 20, Op. 31, Op. 39), the E major is generally calmer in temperament, though it still possesses some exceptionally passionate and dramatic moments.
The scherzo is in sonata rondo form. The main theme is in E major. During the first section, the main theme modulates to A flat major and back in the home key. Then it moves to a trio in C-sharp minor and secondly in F major that is based on a Polish folk song. As such, it is the only one of Chopin's four scherzos primarily based on a major key.
Chopin refused to conform to a standard method of playing and believed that there was no set technique for playing well. His style was based extensively on his use of very independent finger technique. In his Projet de méthode he wrote: "Everything is a matter of knowing good fingering ... we need no less to use the rest of the hand, the wrist, the forearm and the upper arm."
He further stated: "One needs only to study a certain position of the hand in relation to the keys to obtain with ease the most beautiful quality of sound, to know how to play short notes and long notes, and [to attain] unlimited dexterity."
The consequences of this approach to technique in Chopin's music include the frequent use of the entire range of the keyboard, passages in double octaves and other chord groupings, swiftly repeated notes, the use of grace notes, and the use of contrasting rhythms (four against three, for example) between the hands.