Episode 1

Beginnings | Chopin's First Ballade

Frédéric Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G Minor was revolutionary for its time, and remains a jewel of the piano repertoire today. Touching on everything from Bellini to Cole Porter, poetry to politics, this episode reveals the potency of the piece's opening measures through the eyes (and hands) of acclaimed concert pianists Garrick Ohlsson, Emanuel Ax, Rebecca Penneys, Jerome Lowenthal, Gary Graffman, and Seymour Bernstein.

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Episode 1

Featured tonebase Artists

This episode features the voices of world-class pianists and professors. All of the interviews in this episode come directly from their lessons on tonebase. Click below to view profiles and lessons.

Recordings used in this episode

Bach-Rachmaninoff: Gavotte from Violin Partita No.3 in E, BWV 1006, Andrew Tyson performing, recorded by tonebase, published October 10, 2020 on Youtube. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiEzdspj-7c.

Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23, Emanuel Ax performing, part of album, “Chopin: Ballades & Mazurkas; Scherzos and other works,” 17 October 2005, RCA.

Chopin: Polonaise in F# Minor, Op. 44, Arthur Rubinstein performing, recorded September 27, 28, 1950 & March 12, 1951, released 1999, BMG Music. Available at

Chopin: Ballades No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23, Arthur Rubinstein performing, 5 March 1965, published 23 June 2019 to Youtube. Available at

Chopin: Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op. 39, Daniil Trifonov performing, 2010, The Fryderyk Chopin Institute (NIFC), Polish Television (TVP), National Audiovisual Institute (NInA). Published 19 February 2016 to Youtube. Available at

Brahms: Piano Concerto #1 In D Minor, Op. 15 - 1. Maestoso, Leon Fleisher, George Szell, and Cleveland Orchestra performing, part of album, “Brahms: Piano Concertos, Handel Variations, Waltzes,” 1997, Masterworks Heritage.

Porter: “Don't Fence Me In,”  Gene Autry performing, originally released 1944 Sony BMG Music Entertainment, re-released 18 August 1987, Columbia Historic Edition. Published 9 February, 2015 to Youtube. Available at

Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring, Sir Simon Rattle, London Symphony Orchestra performing, recorded live at the Barbican Centre on Sunday 24 September 2017. Published 2 October 2017 to Youtube. Available at

Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67, Leonard Bernstein, Wiener Philharmoniker performing, UMG. Available at

Boieldieu: La Dame Blanche - Ballade: "D'ici voyez ce beau domaine", Jane Berbié, Pierre Stoll, Orchestre Symphonique & Chœur de Paris performing, 1961. Published 22 May 2015 to Youtube. Available at

Chopin: Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38, Gary Graffman performing, originally released 1959, Sony Music Entertainment.

Bellini: "L'abbandono,” Montserrat Caballé, Miguel Zanetti, 1981, part of album, “Montserrat Caballe: Italian Operas Arias & Lieder/Airs D'Operas & Melodies (Artistes Repertoires),” first available 10 February 2007, BMG International. Published 9 January 2013 to Youtube. Available at

Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23, Vladimir Horowitz performing, 1965, part of album, “Horowitz: The Historic Return; Carnegie Hall 1965; The 1966 Concerts,” released 25 October 1993, Sony Music Entertainment. Published 4 November 2013 to Youtube. Available at

Chopin: Ballade in G minor, Op. 23, Arthur Rubinstein performing, recorded 1963, Nijmegen, Holland. Available at

Chopin: Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 23, Emanuel Ax performing, part of album, “Chopin: Ballades & Mazurkas; Scherzos and other works,” 17 October 2005, RCA.