Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor - Mily Balakirev

Mily Balakirev's Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor stands as a monumental piece within the solo piano repertoire, showcasing the composer's intricate control over melody and rhythm. This piece, composed during the late 19th century, exemplifies the vibrant Russian musical landscape of its time, distinguished by its technical demands and emotional depth. Masterfully structured and innovatively harmonized, it reflects Balakirev's contribution to the development of piano music, intertwining traditional forms with bold, new harmonies. This scherzo is not just a technical showcase but also a deep exploration of musical expressivity.

A Journey Through Time: The Creation and Release of Scherzo No. 2

Mily Balakirev, a pivotal figure in Russian music and a leader of the group known as "The Mighty Handful," composed the Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor as a continuation of his exploration into the capabilities of piano music. Balakirev, often overshadowed by his contemporaries, created this piece in a period where Russian music sought to establish its identity, incorporating nationalistic elements into traditional European forms.

The Scherzo No. 2 was composed during a time of intense creativity and personal turmoil for Balakirev. Its exact composition date remains a subject of speculation, but it is widely accepted that it emerged in the latter half of the 19th century, a time when Balakirev was deeply involved in the promotion of Russian nationalist music.

Upon its release, the scherzo was met with admiration and respect, showcasing Balakirev's mastery over piano composition. It was published as part of his contributions to the Russian music scene, reinforcing his status as a key musical figure of his time.

Dissecting the Musical Genius: An Analysis of Scherzo No. 2

The Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor is characterized by its rapid tempo and complex structure, nestled within the form of a traditional scherzo but imbued with Balakirev's unique musical language. Harmonically, the piece navigates through unexpected territories, blending chromaticism with traditional Russian folk melodies, resulting in a rich tapestry of sound.

Rhythmically, the piece exhibits Balakirev's fascination with asymmetry and unpredictability, elements that contribute to its dynamic character. The utilization of the B-flat minor key adds a somber, introspective quality to the music, with sudden shifts to major tones that provide contrast and relief.

The piece also demonstrates advanced technical demands, including rapid passages, intricate fingerwork, and expressive dynamics, showcasing the composer's intention to push the boundaries of piano technique and expression.

The Enduring Popularity of Scherzo No. 2

The enduring appeal of Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor can be attributed to its complex interplay of form, harmony, and melody. It stands as a testament to Balakirev's innovative approach to piano music, blending technical virtuosity with deep musicality.

Among piano enthusiasts and professionals, the scherzo remains a favorite for its challenging yet rewarding nature. It serves as a bridge between the past and future of piano music, reflecting the transitional period of Russian classical music and highlighting Balakirev's role in its evolution.


In conclusion, Mily Balakirev's Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor is a masterpiece of solo piano literature, exemplifying the synthesis of technical mastery and profound musical expression. Its place in the canon of piano music is well-deserved, offering both performers and listeners a window into the soul of Russian romanticism.

Publication date: 06. 03. 2024