Paper 2

Submitted By RealXiao
Words: 316
Pages: 2

Though the term had been used earlier, it was Haydn who conceived of the scherzo in its modern sense. In 1781, he called the third movement of some of his string quartets a “scherzo.” What had been the old minuet-and-trio movement now became a scherzo (and trio), and Haydn’s choice of that name indicated that he wanted more speed and liveliness. Beethoven took this evolution one step further: his scherzos, usually built on very short rhythmic units, explode with violent energy and with enough comic touches to remind us that scherzo is the Italian word for joke.

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