By the Beautiful Blue Danube Opus 314 Johann Strauss (II)
Remarkably, this is the only piece of Chopin solo piano music that has been a permanent fixture of the Classic FM Hall of Fame since its inception in 1996.
As with the concertos, this particular nocturne was composed around 1830, when Chopin was in his early twenties. It was a hugely productive time for the young composer, when his creative juices were at full spate. The simple yet beguiling melody haunts from start to finish, inviting us into an intimate world where every note matters.
Given the hundreds of not just nocturnes but polkas, mazurkas, waltzes, polonaises and plenty more besides that Chopin composed, you could arguably expect more of them to have found a place in the nation’s heart.
Despite being forever associated with the nocturne, (essentially a piece of particularly wistful, dreamy music, often intended to evoke images of the night) Chopin was not actually its inventor. Instead, the form was created by the Irish composer John Field, a man whose influence on Chopin can be heard clearly, not just in his solo piano music but also in his two piano concertos.
Illustration: Mark Millington