January 15th: Aeolian Harp and Buzzing Bees

1) F. Chopin, "Aeolian Harp" Etude op. 25 no. 1

An etude (French word for "study") is written to focus on specific technical challenges.  Chopin was a composer who elevated the etude from an exercise to a piece fit for the concert stage!  Some became so popular they were given nicknames but "Aeolian Harp" does not come from the composer himself.


  • What technical challenges do you think this etude focuses on? (Hint: watch the version with the music notes)
  • How would you describe the mood of this piece?  What feelings does it give you?


2) Rimsky-Korsakov - Flight of the Bumblebee

This is a popular piece you may have heard before - as the title suggests, it's a whirlwhind of notes that are to evoke the buzzing of bees.  The first link is of a "simple" arrangement by S. Rachmaninoff.  The second link is like a whole swarm of angry bees by Georges Cziffra, played by Yuja Wang.


  • Which version did you prefer and why?
  • What kind of unique scale does this piece use?

I had the pleasure of meeting pianist, Yuja Wang (October 2015) at the Bella Concert Hall after a thrilling performance with 5 encores.

Click to enlarge