The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21, is a piano concerto composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1830. Chopin wrote the piece before he had finished his formal education, at around 20 years of age. It was first performed on 17 March 1830, in Warsaw, Poland, with the composer as soloist. It was the second of his piano concertos to be published (after the Piano Concerto No. 1), and so was designated as “No. 2”, even though it was written first.
The work contains the three movements typical of instrumental concertos of the period:
Allegro vivace. What makes Chopin’s Op. 21 an early-Romantic concerto par excellence is the dominance of the piano part. After introducing the first movement, the orchestra cedes all responsibility for musical development to the piano; there is none of the true interplay of forces that is the mainstay of the classical concerto. The idea that Chopin is a poor orchestrator is an oft-flogged dead horse of music criticism; Berlioz, himself a master orchestrator, was harsh in his appraisal, calling Chopin’s treatment “nothing but a cold and useless accompaniment.”