"In all my life I have never again been able to find such a beautiful melody." -Chopin, on Op. 10, No. 3
Chopin's Études are the foundation of a new system of technical piano playing that was radical and revolutionary the first time they appeared. They are some of the most challenging and evocative pieces of all the works in concert piano repertoire. Because of this, the music remains popular and often performed in both concert and private stages. Some are so popular they have been given nicknames; arguably the most popular of all is Op. 10, No. 3, sometimes identified by the names "Tristesse" (Sadness) or "Farewell" (L'Adieu), as well as the Revolutionary Étude (Op. 10, No. 12). Although no nicknames are of Chopin's original creation, they create interesting pretext and encourage the imagination to fabricate epic works embodied by these studies.
All twenty-seven Études were published during Chopin's lifetime; Opus 10, the first group of twelve, were composed between 1829 and 1832, and were published in 1833, in France, Germany, and England. The twelve Études of Opus 25 were composed at various times between 1832 and 1836, and were published in the same countries in 1837. The final three, part of a series called "Méthode des méthodes de piano" compiled by Moscheles and Fétis, were composed in 1839, without an assigned opus number. They appeared in Germany and France in November 1840, and England in January 1841. Accompanying copies of these important early editions, there are usually several manuscripts of a single Étude in Chopin's own hand, and additional copies made by his close friend, Jules Fontana, along with editions of Carl Mikuli, Chopin's student.
The first Études of the Opus 10 set were written when Chopin was still in his teens. They rank alongside the early works of Mendelssohn as rare examples of extremely youthful compositions that are regarded as both innovative and worthy of inclusion in the standard canon. Chopin's Études elevated the musical form from purely utilitarian exercises to great artistic masterpieces. At a concert in which Chopin performed his opus 25, Robert Schumann said "À la Chopin".