The Ocean and Chopin


David Caspar Friedrich’s “The Wanderer”

I have this very unusual connection between this painting, and Chopin’s :”Ocean” Etude Op. 25, No.12. On first glance, I thought that the man was standing on a pile of rock overlooking the ocean. It really is some type of valley that the man overlooks. The clouds are painted in a way to mimick ocean waves crashing into the rocks while the man contemplates.

Take a listen…

Performed by worldy renowned pianist Vladmir Horowitz, Chopin’s Etude always transports me to the ocean. The up and down arpeggios that Horowitz accentuates reminds me of being on out at sea on a small raft or boat, with the whole thing bobbing up and down, as I travel wanderlessly through the ocean. Friedrich’s painting perfectly sums up the passion, and detail of such art at the time, and Chopin does a hell of a good job mimicking the ocean.

Of couse Horowitz (a friend of Rachmaninoff) makes this piece sound and appear very easy, but it’s nowhere near easy.

In fact, it is one of the most challenging pieces to ever attempt, in my opinion.You really need to have a strong and stable technique, and the power to make it through to the end. There are hardly any rests in this piece and you are basically arpeggiating the whole piece from beginning to end. If you want somebody who has perfect technique to play this piece, Valentina Lisitsa is the one who can play any piece of music like ease, and then subtly make you want to quit piano for good 🙂

Told you. When I first saw here play this piece with the upmost perfection, I literally gave up on piano for a while, I’m serious.

Play Horowitz’s version again and contemplate your life whilist staring at Fredrich’s painting. You will feel something most unexplainable.

I did.


2 thoughts on “The Ocean and Chopin

  1. I can see a man staring at the ocean now that you point it out, but I always imagined a ship navigating through rough waters. Horowitz and Lisitsa are two wonderful pianists; their performances were exquisite as always.


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