Bela Bartok-Allegro Barbaro, Sz. 49

The E-flat major nocturne, Op. 9, Nº. 2, was part of a group of six nocturnes written between late 1830 and 1832 and then published in 1833, not long after Chopin arrived in Paris.

The E flat Nocturne, op. 9 no. 2 is possibly the most popular and well-known of Chopin’s nocturnes, and a quite characteristic example of how Chopin delicately mixes ear-caressing beauty with hints of despair and melancholy.

Because Chopin wrote and spoke relatively little of nocturnes while composing them, it is not really possible to say a great deal about the specific contexts out of which they emerged. But they were written during the time in which Chopin was promoting himself as a pianist and composer among the European capitals, and that their publication followed his establishment in Paris.

Its melodies are limpid and clear, its flow and form simple and unassuming, and its overall cast hardly among Chopin’s most original or inspired achievements, but the tune sells itself, prodigiously well, in part thanks to its perennial use in movies and television as background music suggestive of a refined or snooty ambiance.

As an interesting footnote, the Op. 9 set of nocturnes was dedicated to Marie Pleyel, wife of Camille Pleyel. Camille Pleyel was a pianist, publisher, and member of the influential Parisian Pleyel family of piano builders and concert promoters, and the Pleyels played a crucial role in helping Chopin to establish himself in their city.