In his four scherzos, Chopin does not copy the forms of Haydn or Beethoven, but adapts the general shape of the classical-period scherzo for his own purposes. He keeps the quick tempo, the 3/4 meter, and (usually) the ABA form of the earlier scherzo, but makes no attempt at humor–the emphasis in this music is on brilliant, exciting music for the piano. The general form of the Chopin scherzo is an opening section based on contrasted themes, followed by a middle section (Chopin does not call this a trio) in a different key and character; the scherzo concludes with the return of the opening material, now slightly abridged.
Chopin’s Scherzo in E Major, his final work in this form, was composed in 1842 and is suffused with a spirit more relaxed than one generally associates with the scherzo–it is full of sunny, almost rhapsodic music. It is also his longest, and the entire scherzo is to some extent unified around its