Frédéric Chopin is considered the first “pianistic” composer, which means he wrote specifically with pianists in mind. He tailored his music to their artistry and technical wizardry. But, he didn’t always launch into bracing octaves or challenging passagework. For example, in the Ballade No. 1 in G-minor, Chopin teases the audience with a meandering introduction that seems to indicate he didn’t know where he was going. This is in direct contrast to Beethoven, who never meandered anywhere.
Chopin inspires musicians to greater artistry and, as Barenboim says in this video, makes them want to sound as if the music is simply emanating from them as light from a candle. In this ballade, Chopin also takes us on a leisurely stroll through his own private musical world.
Piano score to download and print (PS Urtext):