This is not the famous Funeral March from the Piano Sonata No. 2 (1839). That one was composed in 1837 by Chopin and inserted two years by him into the sonata as the third movement. This effort is a bit shorter but is still a substantial work. Written when the composer was 17 and a student at the Warsaw Conservatory, it already displays many stylistic fingerprints of the master to come: accompaniment in chords played in step with the main theme, a melody that can suddenly turn from the morose to the sweet; and a sonic fabric whose color and expressive range clearly break with Classical tradition.
The work opens with a somber, dignified theme whose slow gait imparts a sense of desolation. Yet when the melody reaches the upper ranges of the piano it briefly brightens and consoles, but in the sense that pity can offer only temporary solace to the bereaved. The middle section trio is based on the main theme and is lovely in its gentleness, but fails to break with the overall dark mood. The main theme returns to close the piece.
This work was published posthumously (in 1855 in Berlin), probably an indication the composer was not satisfied with it. While this Funeral March's material may not be sufficiently varied to justify its approximately five-minute length, its writing is generally inventive for its time, and its thematic wares are of sufficient interest to warrant greater attention than the work has generally received.