Étude Op. 10, No. 12 (Chopin)

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Étude Op. 10, No. 12 in C minor, known as the "Revolutionary Étude" or the "Étude on the Bombardment of Warsaw",[1] is a solo piano work by Frédéric Chopin written circa 1831, and the last in his first set, Etudes, Op. 10, dedicated "à son ami Franz Liszt" ("to his friend Franz Liszt").

Opening of the Revolutionary Étude


The "Revolutionary Étude" was inspired by the 1831 Russian attack on Warsaw during the November Uprising

The 12th Étude appeared around the same time as the November Uprising in 1831. Upon the conclusion of Poland's failed revolution against Russia, he cried, "All this has caused me much pain. Who could have foreseen it?"[2]

Unlike études of prior periods, works designed to emphasize and develop particular aspects of musical technique, the romantic études of composers such as Chopin and Liszt are fully developed musical concert pieces, while still continuing the goal of developing stronger technique.


In the case of Op. 10, No. 12, the technique required in the opening bars is playing long, loud descending runs, which forms a dominant seventh chord introductory build-up to the main theme. The length and the repetition of these rapid passages distinguishes the "Revolutionary" from other études. The rest of the passage focuses on the left hand fingering scales and arpeggios.

Although the greatest challenge lies with the relentless left hand semiquavers, the right hand is also challenged by the cross-rhythms which are used with increasing sophistication to handle the same theme in various successive parallel passages.

The left hand technique in this piece involves evenly played semiquavers throughout. The structure is of the strophic form (A–A′–coda)[example needed]. Some may also argue that it is of the ternary form (A–B–A–coda). The opening broken chords (diminished chord with an added passing note) and downward passages transition into the main appassionato melody. The octave melody's dotted rhythms and the continuous accompaniment give an impression of tension.[3] The piece ends by recalling the opening in a final descending sweep (with both hands) descending to a C major chord, although within a context that draws its expected function as a resolution into question.


The end of the étude alludes to Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 32, written in the same key—a piece Chopin is known to have greatly admired[citation needed] – compare bars 77–81 in the Étude to bars 150–152 in the first movement (also ending in C major) of Beethoven's sonata.


  1. ^ de Korwin-Piotrowska, Sophie (1933). Baldensperger, Fernand; Hazard, Paul (eds.). Balzac et le monde slave [Balzac and the Slavic World]. Bibliothèque de la Revue de littérature comparée (in French). 93. Paris: University of Paris & H. Champion. p. 336. OCLC 489978309.
  2. ^ Niecks, Frederick (1945), Frédéric Chopin as a Man and Musician, p. 98.
  3. ^ Kamien, Roger (1997), Music: An Appreciation (3rd ed.), Boston: McGraw-Hill, pp. 231–232, ISBN 0-07-036521-0.

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