I’m often asked to name my favorite composer, and nearly always, it’s the one whose music I’m currently studying and teaching.
In this case, Chopin’s posthumous Waltz in A minor, discovered by musicologists in the 1950s, is the CHOSEN.
Not cluttered with reams of intricate runs and fancy ornaments, it’s a good first Waltz to teach among the composer’s rich collection. And students can separately piece out the melody, fundamental bass notes, and after-beat chords before a synthesis is made in baby steps. I always have pupils explore pedaling last.
One of the big challenges in this composition is PHRASING. One must shape lines like a singer, with curves and contour. Third beats should be lightened, and dynamics need to be varied. Rubato playing gives character and nuance to the Romantic era style and is a vital ingredient of interpretation.
It’s a challenge to immerse oneself deeply in this music, so a layered learning process is worth the investment of time.
CONTOURING and Phrasing Chopin’s A minor Waltz