Frederic Chopin – Nocturne In E Flat Major, Op.9 No.2
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Chopin composed his most popular Nocturne in E-flat major, Op. 9, No. 2 when he was about twenty.
This popular nocturne is in rounded binary form (A, A, B, A, B, A) with coda, C. The A and B sections become increasingly ornamented with each recurrence. The penultimate bar utilizes considerable rhythmic freedom, indicated by the instruction, senza tempo (without tempo). Nocturne in E-flat major opens with a legato melody, mostly played piano, containing graceful upward leaps which becomes increasingly wide as the line unfolds. This melody is heard again three times during the piece. With each repetition, it is varied by ever more elaborate decorative tones and trills. The nocturne also includes a subordinate melody, which is played with rubato.
A sonorous foundation for the melodic line is provided by the widely spaced notes in the accompaniment, connected by the damper pedal. The waltz-like accompaniment gently emphasizes the 12/8 meter, 12 beats to the measure subdivided into four groups of 3 beats each.
The nocturne is reflective in mood until it suddenly becomes passionate near the end. The new concluding melody begins softly but then ascends to a high register and is played forcefully in octaves, eventually reaching the loudest part of the piece, marked fortissimo. After a trill-like passage, the excitement subsides; the nocturne ends calmly.
In popular culture
- Exodus (1960) Katherine “Kitty” Fremont (Eva Marie Saint) has a discussion with Gen. Sutherland (Ralph Richardson) about the fate of Jewish internees in Cyprus with a background drone of Nocturnes Op. 9, No. 2.
- Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) Nocturne No. 2 accompanies the ‘Pawpet Show’, and is also played over the closing credits.
- Saturday Night Fever (1977) A small section plays in the background of the dance studio about half an hour into the film.
- The Blue Lagoon (1980) Emmeline’s music box plays Nocturne No. 2.
- Friends (1994-2004) In season 6 episode 16, The One That Could Have Been: Part 2, Nocturne No. 2 is playing as Fat Monica tries to seduce Richard into taking her virginity.
- Waking Life (2001) Nocturne is played in the background of scene in the bar during various interviews (approx. 39 minutes into film).
- Bad Santa (2003) Played during the opening sequence that transitions into the titular character being shown in a bar. In pursuit of the policie in the end of the movie, hear Op. 9, No. 2.
- Dexter (TV series) (2007) Debra Morgan listens to Op.9, No. 2 on season 2 episode 7 while working out at the gym.
- Rock n Rolla (2008) The nocturne is playing in the background for the scene when Gerard Butler gives the money to Thandie Newton and describes fighting off the Russian grunts.
- Hetalia: Axis Powers (2009) In episode 6, the piece is played by Austria during a campfire scene.
- Bones (Tv series) (2009) In season 5 episode 3, The Plain in the Prodigy: Amish boy Levi playing his audition piece; repeats as Levi’s parents watch the video.
- Muse (2009) used parts of it in their song “United States of Eurasia” Where the piece is the last 2 minutes of the song. They called it “Collateral Damage”
- 127 Hours (2010) The scene begins some years earlier in family home with Aron’s younger sister rehearsing Nocturnes, Op.9, No. 2. After several days of being pinned by a boulder, Aron Ralston (James Franco), dehydrated, delusional, and believing he is going to die, reminisces his past to the bliss of Nocturne.
- Fast Girls (2011) Used in the background of the party scene whilst Lenora Crichlow’s character gets inappropriately drunk.
- The Raven (2012) Alice Eve’s character, Emily, plays Nocturnes Op. 9, No. 2, to an audience as her father converses with Inspector Fields.
- Bioshock: Infinite (2013) A version of the song plays at the Finkton Docks, and a separate version plays inside the museum portion of the Columbian Archaeological Society
- Behind the Candelabra (2013) Played in the background when Liberace (portrayed on-screen by Michael Douglas) talks about his Catholic faith.
- Mad Men (2013) Played on violin by Sandy in the Season 6 premiere “The Doorway”
- Japanese figure skater Mao Asada skated to this piece for her short program in the 2006-2007 season and the 2013-2014 season.
- American Horror Story: Coven (2014) The nocturne is played at the beginning of the episode “Go to Hell (American Horror Story)“.
- How I Met Your Mother (2014) In the 5th episode of the 9th season, The Poker Game, Op. 9 No. 2 plays while Marshall describes how good a pizza is.
In popular music
Muse‘s “Collateral Damage” is the same as Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in Eb, with slight modifications, a handful of changed notes, an added string section, children’s laughter and jet fighters; this song is used as an ending to the song “United States of Eurasia“.