Étude in C Major, Opus 10 No. 1
In this masterclass, Dénes Vàrjon encourages his student to approach this piece with an alternative perspective. While these Études are clearly written by Frédéric Chopin, Vàrjon recommends that Soubrouillard play the works as if it were composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. The aim of this challenge is to improve overall technique, as well as advance the student’s understanding of harmony and chords.
With this, the master emphasizes the importance of practicing the ‘outline’ or framework of the composition’s harmony and finding a balance between the bass and treble clef. Clear communication between the chords is essential.
Evoking a clear harmony.
Understanding chords in relation to each other.
Approaching a piece with a different perspective.
Movement and hand posture.
At the early age of 23-years-old, Frédéric Chopin published his first set of studies (études), Opus. 10 in 1833, which was dedicated to his friend and contemporary, Franz Liszt. By contrast, his second set of études, Opus. 25 published in 1837 was dedicated to Marie d’Agoult, an author, historian, and perhaps by chance, Liszt’s mistress.
Chopin’s études are unlike any études that preceded them. They are technically very challenging, requiring players to have a sufficient mastery of trills, arpeggios, and speed. His études enhanced the musical form that was once regarded as ‘practice exercises’ to musical masterpieces. While each piece focuses on a particular aspect of a player’s technique (for example, Op. 10 No. 1 works on broad arpeggiated chords and Op. 25 No. 10 aims to develop octave technique), all 27 études are linked together by a common objective : to develop a legato style of playing. Common feedback that Chopin would deliver to his students is, “S/he does not know how to connect two notes.”
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Dénes Várjon’s feedback and comments.
He won first prize in the Hungarian Radio Piano Competition, the Leo Weiner Chamber Music Competition in Budapest and the Géza Anda Competition in Zurich.
Dénes Várjon graduated from the Franz Liszt Music Academy in 1991, where his professors included Sándor Falvai, György Kurtág and Ferenc Rados. Now, Vàrjon is considered to be one of the greatest living chamber musicians, working regularly with pre-eminent partners such as Steven Isserlis, Tabea Zimmermann, Kim Kashkashian, Jörg Widmann, Leonidas Kavakos, András Schiff, Heinz Holliger, Miklós Perényi, and Joshua Bell. As a soloist, he has performed at numerous concert halls, including Carnegie Hall, Konzerthaus, and Wigmore Hall. He is frequently invited to work with many of the world’s leading symphony orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and more. His recordings have received critical acclaim and he was the recipient of First Prize at the Piano Competition of Hungarian Radio, at the Leó Weiner Chamber Music Competition in Budapest, and at the Géza Anda Competition in Zurich. In 2020, Vàrjon received Hungary’s supreme award in culture, the Kossuth Prize.
Born in Poland in 1810, Frédéric Chopin was a gifted pianist and a highly-acclaimed composer. He was a child prodigy who from the early age of six-years-old began performing in great halls of the Polish bourgeoisie. It was around this time that the young musician began composing. Between 1810 and 1830, he composed 30 works for solo piano. Chopin’s compositions comprise beautiful melodies, sophisticated harmonies, and an original approach to formal design. If the piano is the romantic instrument par excellence; it is due, in large part, to the contribution of Chopin.
At the opposite of the orchestral pianism of his contemporary Franz Liszt (representative of the most extroverted and passionate, almost exhibitionist, facet of Romanticism), the Polish composer explored an intrinsically poetic style, of a subtle lyricism. The two composers would later become friends and admirers of each other’s works. It is said that Chopin's earliest compositions are, in some way, a product of influence from the "brilliant style" of public pianism associated with composers such as Hummel, Weber, Moscheles, and Kalkbrenner, among others. Later, the pieces that were composed during his Warsaw period—which involved the radical reworking of forms, procedures, and materials—are testimony to the influence of the Viennese Classical composers and Bach. The influence of popular Polish music is also vital in his works.