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Frédéric Chopin's ballades are four one-movement pieces for solo piano. He composed them between 1835 and 1842. The four ballades are said to have been inspired by Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. The exact inspiration for each individual ballade, however, is unclear and not agreed upon.
Ballades were composed before Chopin, in literature and Italian Renaissance music. But, Chopin invented the ballade as an abstract musical form. The ballade is a distinct form and cannot be placed into another form (e.g. sonata). After Chopin, other composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms also wrote ballades.
The ballades are thought to be the best of Chopin's compositions and of romantic music. The ballades are difficult for pianists to play, even after they learn the technical difficulty of the notes. There are still the creative expressions to be mastered.
All four ballades are from 8 to 12 minutes in length. They are in triple time (three beats to a bar), or in 6/4 or 6/8 time. Each is an individual work and should not be played as a group in a concert. Even Chopin did not do this. He wanted listeners to find their own interpretation of the music. Each piece has its own poetry, drama and story.
- "Chopin: Complete Music Analysis – Ballades". OurChopin.com. http://www.ourchopin.com/analysis/ballade.html.
- Zakrzewska, Dorota (1999). "Alienation and Powerlessness: Adam Mickiewicz's "Ballady" and Chopin's Ballades". Polish Music Journal 2 (1–2). . http://www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/PMJ/issue/2.1.99/zakrzewska.html. Retrieved 2013-12-31.