I've been listening to Chopin's Nocturnes in the morning recently (yes, I know, nocturnes in the morning...). Which means that I have the theme from Op. 9 No. 2 in my head a lot these days.
The melody of this piece is so pretty and melancholy, it soothes and breaks the heart at the same time. I came across this video of Yundi Li performing the piece, and was struck by how gently and effortlessly his fingers appear to be playing it, and yet how wrapped up and fully into the music he is. Watch him at the end...he's completely shaken by the music. It's a beautiful thing.
I also came across this quote at Chopin Music--George Sand about Chopin's writing process (Chopin and Sand had a 10-year relationship that came to a rather unpleasant end):
"His creative work was spontaneous, miraculous. It came to him without effort or warning... But then began the most heartrending labour I have ever witnessed. It was a series of attempts, of fits of irresolution and impatience to recover certain details. He would shut himself in his room for days, pacing up and down, breaking his pens, repeating and modifying one bar a hundred times."It's amazing to me how a composer will put immense effort and work like this into one bar of music, and it can come out sounding as effortless and simple as if he just plucked it out of the sky. Which is, of course, the goal.
According to Chopin Music, Chopin once wrote:
"Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art."