Fryderyk Chopin's three sonatas for solo piano were written at different stages of his artistic development. While the Sonata in C minor is the earliest of the three and is sometimes called Chopin's "sin of youth", the later two belong to the core works of his synthetic period which produced also the scherzos, the ballads and the Fantasia in F minor, and are representative of Chopin's outstanding composing technique.
The Sonata in C minor Op. 4 was written in 1827-28, when Chopin was a student with Józef Elsner, and proved a challenge to the seventeen-year adolescent. A testimony to the first stage of his artistic achievement, it was published posthumously in 1851.
The Sonata in B flat minor Op. 35 was written in stages, starting from the Funeral March. The March's manuscript bears the date of 28th November 1837, the eve of an anniversary of the November rising, and it was another two years before the Sonata was completed. Its respective movements represent the typical Romantic genres of the ballade, the scherzo, the funeral march and the etude. The funeral march with its tragic, almost catastrophic mood provides the culminating point and lends the name of "Sonate funèbre" to the work.
The Sonata in B minor Op. 58 was written in Nohant in 1844 and again its movements are par excellence examples of the Romantic genres. The first one, Allegro, and the last one, in the form of a rondo, have a ballade character; the second movement is a scherzo; the third one brings the nocturnal mood; just like in the previous Sonata, the Funeral March is the culminating point.
Besides the three sonatas for his beloved instrument, the piano, Chopin also wrote the Sonata in G minor Op. 65 for cello and piano, dedicating it to Auguste Franchomme, his cellist friend.
Prepared by the Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, April 2004.