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6 min 

A daguerreotype of Chopin by Louis-Auguste Bisson, taken in 1849, the year of his death.

(#5 in the Laney’s List series — a music professor chooses 36 pieces to introduce his 16-year-old daughter to classical music.)

If Chopin had his way, you wouldn’t know his Impromptu No. 4. Written in 1834 when he was 24 years old, it was not published until he was 45, by which time he had stopped writing new works entirely, having been dead for six years.

He had asked nicely that his unpublished works (including this one) remain unpublished after his death, which seems reasonable. But Posterity invoked the legal principle quid facietis in hac — roughly, What are you going to do about it? — and published anyway. It is now among his most performed pieces.

It starts with the fantastic agitated energy of his etudes, then goes into a tranquil melody that he clearly borrowed from the Judy Garland song “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows.”


CHOPIN, Impromptu No. 4 (4:50)

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See also: 1 Chopin | 2 Scarlatti | 3 Hildegard | 4 Bach Full list YouTube playlist

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.