Fryderyk Chopin’s first five published works have been described as the work of “the boy, the youth, the virtuoso, the salon composer, and the student.” THEN comes Op. 6: his first Mazurkas.
In the late 19th-century, the saying went, “the Mazurka is the dance of the people; the Waltz, the dance of Society.” Ironic, then, that Fryderyk Chopin wrote the first of his fifty-six Mazurkas in Vienna, where the waltz was king. Chopin’s first set of Mazurkas marked an arrival in style. They are, in the words of biographer George Charles Ashton Jonson, “the first published works of Chopin’s in which the individual characteristics of his genius shine forth clearly and unmistakably: the first fruits of Chopin as a poet.”
19th-century Polish musicologist Jan Kleczynski chalked it up to Chopin’s heritage: “In these first Mazurkas at once appears that national life from which, as an inexhaustible treasury, Chopin drew his inspiration.”
And even Franz Liszt found something wholly new in Chopin’s Mazurkas. “To do justice to the Mazurkas,” he wrote, “one would have to harness a new pianist of the first rank to each one of them. The latent poetry in the original Polish Mazurkas was only indicated, and was by Chopin divined, developed, and brought to the light of day.” - Benjamin K. Roe