Chopin’s Etude, Opus 10, No.3

Étude Op. 10, No. 3, in E Major is a study for solo piano composed by Chopin in 1832. It was first published in 1833 in France, Germany, and England.

This is a slow cantabile created to assist students with their musical expressiveness and smoothness of playing. For me, it is simply one of the nicest wee tunes I’ve ever heard. Even the maestro himself believed the melody of the piece to be the most beautiful he had ever composed.

The melody became famous through numerous popular arrangements. Although this étude is sometimes identified by the names “Tristesse” (Sadness) or “L’ Adieu” (Farewell), neither is a name given by Chopin, but rather his critics. For me, it is rich in all sorts of feelings and, as such, irresistibly romantic.

I hope you enjoy my recording of this piece which I made some time ago for the “Wedding Album”

Frederick Chopin Etude Opus 10 No 3

The dominant feeling that comes across from the music is a deep sense of nostalgia. This is actually confirmed by some of Chopin’s students. One reported that, on hearing his student play the Etude, Chopin wept and said out loud “ My homeland!”.

It is claimed that Chopin altered parts of the Etude so that a poem by Marian Jozefovicz would fit better to the music. For this reason, I find the following performance of the song derived from the Etude and sung in Polish, very touching. You might also like the version sung by Janus Popławski, a tenor from 1934 which can be found here.

My Polish sister-in-law played the Etude beautifully. My French mother-in-law used to refer to it as Tino Rossi‘s “Tristesse”. I’ve always loved the French version because it reminds me of beautiful summer days in France so many years ago.

There have been many English versions of the song “So Deep is the Night”, heavily based on the Etude. These range from beautiful to mediocre to appalling. One version which is rather delightful sung by David Chittick, is presented below with clips from the film “A Song to Remember” a 1945 musical drama in which Chopin sacrifices everything, even love, for his native Poland.

Many films have used the Etude as background, one notable example being near the beginning of “Testament of Youth”, a highly acclaimed film based on the life of Vera Britten, the late Shirley Williams’ mother.

The Trove Cambridge

Delighted to support The Trove Cambridge with their Crowdfunding campaign and Treasures Box Launch! Love the video and the fact that Steph used my music – Yiruma’s ‘River Flows in You’ from ‘The Wedding Album’.

You can find out more about the Trove Cambridge and the Crowdfunding page HERE . Please donate if you can and take a look at the Rewards!

Click the image to listen to
The Wedding Album by John McGuinness

A Red Red Rose

My Love is Like A Red Red Rose; Trad. Scottish; Piano Solo arrangement by John McGuinness

We are approaching St. Andrews Day so I thought it timely to share my piano solo arrangement of one of the most beautiful Scottish love songs ever written – Robert Burns’ “A Red Red Rose”.

I have tried to bring out the romanticism in the music by giving the melody a “nocturne” style. I hope you enjoy it and sing along with it. In a future ‘blog’, I intend to write a little on the subject of the “Nocturne” or “Notturno”.

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
   That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
   That’s sweetly played in tune.

So fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
   So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
   Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
   And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
I will love thee still, my dear,
   While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only luve!
   And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
   Though it were ten thousand mile.

From Wedding Album

You’ve Got a Friend in Me

You’ve Got a Friend in Me
Music by Randy Newman; arranged for piano solo by John McGuinness

This delightful song was revived this year with the release of the film “Toy Story 4”. You may be asking why this particular song found its way into a wedding album. It is a personal favourite of mine and, despite its sentimental flavour, it speaks charmingly of friendship and love. I watched the original “Toy Story” films with my little grandchildren and I still have fond memories of singing the title song with them. It also has a special meaning for David & Steph and, of course, friendship lies at the root of all loving relationships.

For me, the enduring appeal of the song resides in the fact that most of us, early in our lives, had special toys that we bonded with. They were a profound part of our lives, becoming the central focus of our imaginative play. They acted as a sort of half-way house between our provisional attempts to separate from our primary attachment figures (e.g. mum and dad) and our journey towards the broader world of relationships.

Through our special toys, we could safely and unconsciously project all our worst fears, anxieties, hopes, desires and loves onto them and so learn to manage our feelings. We could also “bring them to life”, to hug and comfort us. We could even tell them off in order to gain some kind of control and they would look back at us and speak to us with our own voices. We would hug them and they would hug us back, thus protecting us from the “monsters” of the night. Sadly, some children never get to experience this and as a psychologist, this thought would bring more than a tug to my heartstrings.

Perhaps the above explains the enduring appeal of these films. They cut deeper than we think because they take us back to all our own infantile needs and wants and fears and anxieties. The films remind us that we learned, through our toys, to find love and enduring companionship in the world – a world that, even now, as older children and adults, often conspires to make our lives more difficult.

The “Toy Story” films are full of fun and humour, something else we develop through our play with others – but that is another “story” in itself! “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” is a song full of this fun. In my view, it is a small and enduring classic and for all the above reasons I decided to make it the first song on “Wedding Album”.

If you enjoy my piano version, please sing along, like this post and share it with your friends and family. You might like to share some of your own “Toy Stories” along with your thoughts on the song (in the comments section below).

You’ll Never Walk Alone

You’ll Never Walk Alone (Piano solo, arr. McGuinness)

Steph and David got married in May. It was rather romantic. They decided to “elope” to Gretna Green and have a peaceful and deeply intimate wedding at the famous “Smithie” . We were all so happy for them ❤️. I decided that I would record a wedding album for them to mark this lovely occasion. I wanted each track to convey something of meaning for the happy couple. This first track is the magnificent “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. I used a “notturno” style to enhance the song’s inherent romanticism. David is a Liverpool supporter but the words of the song mean something much deeper to both of them. It is not just a football anthem; it is their anthem, a statement of their undying love and support for each other. I hope you enjoy my solo piano arrangement of it. The photo below is a gift from Steph to David on their wedding day, created by herself.

A Beautiful Sunrise

Sunrise from ‘Wedding Album’

Got up to get a drink this morning and watched dawn break. Such a magnificent sunrise, calm and peaceful, heralding another glorious morning. This little piece which I wrote for David and Steph’s Wedding Album pretty much sums up my feelings about the first light of day. I do hope you like it.