Ballet Class Music Mazurka

One of Frederic Chopin’s better known mazurkas is Opus 7, No. 1, in B flat. Mazurkas can be an important part of a ballet pianist’s arsenal; they’re great for releves, and some ballet instructors like them for pirouettes as well.

Several years ago, when I was just starting to play for ballet classes, I was desperate for any music I could find that would be suitable for classroom requirements. One day I remembered from my school studies Chopin’s B flat mazurka. She’ll be thrilled with this, I thought, thinking of the instructor I was working for. So, sure enough, I played it for an appropriate exercise, and was greeted with “IT’S NOT SQUARE!!”. “Square” meaning in 8 bar or 16 bar phrases, and sure enough, Chopin’s beloved mazurka is NOT square.

Well, if you’re not adverse to committing the odd sacrilege here and there, you can convert this mazurka into square phrasing. The first 8 bars are fine as is, it’s the next 4 that cause problems. So, to get around this, you can play the first 8 bars, then go back to the beginning, play bars 1 to 4, and finish off with bars 9 to 12. So now you have a square mazurka and hope that you never meet Frederic Chopin in the hereafter.