Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1 ("L'Adieu") - Fryderyk Chopin

The Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1, commonly known as "L'Adieu" was composed by Fryderyk Chopin in the autumn of his career, yet it embodies the youthful spirit and the nostalgic melancholy that are quintessential Chopin. It is a mesmerizing piece that combines technical finesse with deep emotional expression. This waltz was not published during Chopin's lifetime, adding to its mystique and allure. It is a piece that simultaneously showcases Chopin's mastery of melody and his innovative use of the piano's capabilities.

Creation and Publication

The Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1, was composed in 1835, during a period of prolific output for Chopin, but it was only posthumously published in 1852. Despite being referred to as "L'Adieu," suggesting a farewell, there is no definitive evidence pointing to whom the piece was intended to bid farewell. This ambiguity has led to various interpretations and added to the piece's emotional depth.

Chopin was notably meticulous about his compositions, often revising them multiple times. This waltz, however, was circulated among friends and students in its original form, indicating Chopin’s satisfaction with the initial composition. The delay in publication, supervised by Julian Fontana, a friend and colleague of Chopin, has led to discussions regarding the composer's intentions and the authenticity of posthumously published works.

The first editions of the piece feature several discrepancies, leading to a variety of interpretations by pianists over the years. These variations reflect the evolving understanding and appreciation of Chopin's nuanced compositions.

Analytical Perspectives on Waltz in A-flat Major

The Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1, is set in 3/4 time, a signature characteristic of the waltz form. Chopin, however, transforms this traditional dance form into a sophisticated, lyrical piece that transcends the ballroom with its emotional depth and intricate phrasing. The piece opens with a cantabile melody, showcasing Chopin's lyrical gift and his ability to embed intricate harmonies within seemingly simple lines.

Harmonically, the piece is rooted in A-flat major, but it ventures through modulations that reflect Chopin's exploration of chromaticism and his nuanced approach to tonality. The fluidity of Chopin’s modulations lends the waltz a sense of constant movement and evolution, deftly avoiding predictability.

The use of rubato, a technique where the performer slightly speeds up or slows down the tempo, is fundamental to interpreting this waltz. It embodies the flexibility and expressiveness that Chopin's music demands, allowing for deeply personal renditions of the work. The piece also showcases Chopin's innovative pedaling techniques, which contribute to its distinctive sonority and texture.

Enduring Popularity of "L'Adieu"

One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1, lies in its emotional range. It captures a spectrum of feelings, from longing and melancholy to moments of uplifting joy. This emotional versatility resonates with diverse audiences, making it a staple of the piano repertoire.

Additionally, the piece's technical aspects, while challenging, are accessible to a wide range of pianists, from aspiring students to seasoned professionals. This accessibility, combined with its emotional depth, makes it an appealing piece for recitals and competitions.

The mystique surrounding its publication and the speculation over its dedication add layers of intrigue to "L'Adieu." This backstory, whether factual or speculative, has fueled interest in the piece, inviting pianists and listeners alike to participate in its rich historical tapestry.


The Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 69, No. 1, by Chopin, remains a masterpiece of the piano repertoire, enchanting audiences with its lyrical beauty and emotional depth. Its combination of technical mastery, expressive range, and historical intrigue ensures its place in the hearts of music lovers for generations to come. As we continue to explore and interpret Chopin's legacy, "L'Adieu" will undoubtedly continue to inspire and move performers and listeners alike.

Publication date: 28. 02. 2024