Chopin - Étude Op. 10, No. 1 in C major "Waterfall"


Étude Op. 10, No.1 in C major, composed by Frédéric Chopin, is a technical study in reach and arpeggios for the piano. It also focuses on stretching the fingers. Sometimes it is known as the "Waterfall" étude. It was composed in 1829, and first published in 1833, in France, Germany, and England. In a prefatory note to the 1916 Schirmer edition the American music critic James Huneker (18571921) compared the "hypnotic charm" that these "dizzy acclivities and descents exercise for eye as well as ear" to the frightening staircases in Giovanni Battista Piranesi's prints of the Carceri d'invenzione. Structure The work is executed at an Allegro tempo. The time-signature Common time is according to the first French, English, and German editions. Chopin's own manuscript reads Cut time. The right hand gauntlet consists entirely of broad arpeggios in semiquavers (sixteenth notes) on modulating scales. The left hand plays the deep melody in slow, droning octaves. The main difficulty of this piece is playing the etude accurately at its suggested tempo (quarter note equals 176). Given the lack of rests, the challenge lies in playing the entire etude accurately and uninterrupted, which requires extremely swift movement of the right hand and quick changes in octaves for the left hand.

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