Introduction and Bolero, opus 19
Bolero is a 3/4 dance which originated in Spain
in the late 18th Century. It had reached Paris
by the time of Chopin’s arrival there in 1831 having been introduced to the
Parisian audiences by the famous singer, guitarist and composer Manuel Garcia,
the father of Pauline Viardot. A rather slow tempo
characterizes the bolero. The music is sung accompanied by castanets and
guitars with lyrics of five to seven syllables in each of four lines per
verse. It is in triple time and usually
has a triplet on the second beat of each bar. In his C major Bolero op.19,
known in England
in Wessel’s edition as “Souvenirs d’Andalousie”,
Chopin has adapted on this rhythm many reminiscences of the polonaise and the
mazurka creating through this combination a unique and brilliant synthesis.
While therefore the rhythm in this piece is often more reminiscent of a
polonaise than a Hispanic dance, in performing the Bolero care needs to be
taken not to render it too Polish thus losing its original Spanish character.
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