Chopin Ballade N° 1.Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 is one of Chopin's best known piano pieces. Frédéric Chopin composed this ballade in 1835 and it was published in Leipzig in 1836.
It is notably included in the film The Pianist(2002) directed by Roman Polanski. In this film actor Adrien Brody (actually the hands of Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak) plays approximately a four-minute version of the piece. It has also been included in the soundtrack of other movies such as Gaslight(1944) and Thank You for Smoking(2005).
Because of its beauty and its wide appeal among piano music enthusiasts, many celebrated pianists, including Vladimir Horowitz, Arthur Rubinstein, Claudio Arrau, and of course Krystian Zimmerman, have recorded this piece and included it in their concert repertoire.
Zimerman is considered the greatest pianist of his generation and one of the best pianists alive. He was born in Zabrze, Poland, in 1956. Zimerman started his celebrated career by winning the Frédéric Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw in 1975. His formal debut in major concert halls was in 1976 with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Herbert von Karajan. His first performance in the United States was with the New York Philharmonic in 1979.
He has worked with many of the most prestigious directors including Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Claudio Abbado, Seiji Ozawa and Zubin Mehta, among others. For many years Zimerman was the only piano soloist working with Bernstein. He has also worked as an orchestra director recording Chopin’s two concerts (Op. 11 and 21) directing from the piano, in the manner of the nineteenth century piano masters.
Zimerman has not had a very good relationship with the United States. When coming to New York for a concert shortly after 9/11, his piano was confiscated by customs at JFK airport because they thought the glue in the piano had a peculiar, "explosive-like" smell. Zimerman’s precious piano was destroyed. In 2009, he publicly expressed during a concert in Los Angeles his displeasure with US foreign policy, particularly in connection with Poland.
Among his prominent recordings as a piano soloist under Bernstein, shortly before his death in 1990, are Beethoven’s Third, Fourth and Fifth Piano Concertos. Zimerman finished the recording of the cycle, the First and Second Concertos, by directing himself the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra from the keyboard. The Deutsche Grammophon recording of this work (DG 00440 073 4269) is a most cherished item in my DVD music collection.
"My job is to read, listen to music, studying, writing ..., concerts are just an escape from my real profession: living." (Krystian Zimerman, 1994).