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In 19th century romantic music, a piano ballad (most often spelled ballade) is a genre of solo piano pieces[1][2] written in a balletic narrative style, often with lyrical elements interspersed. This type of work made its first appearance with Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 of 1831–35, closely followed by the ballad included in Clara Schumann's Soirées musicales Op. 6 published in the same year.


Ballades have often been characterized as "narrative" in style, "[musical] parts [that] succeed one another in a determined order... their succession is governed by the relationships of causing and resulting by necessity or probability."[3]

The ballade of this time varied. In Chopin, for example, the common element throughout his ballads was the metre, commonly 6
. Brahms's ballades often relied on a three-part song form.[4]

Ballades sometimes alluded to their literary predecessors. Some had obvious or supposed literary associations. For example, the four ballads of Chopin were supposedly inspired by the poetry of Adam Mickiewicz, a friend. However, no such evidence directly from the composer exists. There was, in fact, no concrete association to literature until Brahms debuted his four ballads (Op. 10), which bear the title "After the Scottish ballad 'Edward' ".[4]

Piano ballades have been written since the 19th century; several have been composed in the 20th century (see below).

Collaborative piano balladesEdit

The piano has also been used in works featuring other instruments, as well as voice. For example, Robert Schumann, a romantic composer and husband of Clara Schumann, wrote a set of two songs, Balladen, Op. 122 (1852–53) which were written for piano and voice. Claude Debussy, a later composer, also wrote for piano and voice with his Trois ballades de François Villon (L. 119, 1910).

Works for piano and orchestra also bearing the title "ballade" have been written. These include Fauré's Ballade, Op. 19, which was written in 1881, and Charles Koechlin's Ballade for piano and orchestra, Op. 50, written between 1911–1919. This work also exists as a solo work for piano.



  1. ^ Music Research Forum. University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. 15–16: 85. 2000 Retrieved 1 September 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)[full citation needed]
  2. ^ Jim Samson, "Chopin and Genre", Music Analysis 8, no. 3 (October 1989): 213–231. Reference on 216–17.
  3. ^ Berger, Karol, "The Form of Chopin's Ballade, Op. 23". 19th-Century Music, Vol. 20, No. 1 (1996). p. 46
  4. ^ a b Brown, Maurice J. E. "Ballade (ii)", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 2nd ed. 2001.