I've been studying this etude for one year now, using the exercises of Alfred Cortot in his student's edition. I am making steady progress but have a lot of problems with bars 31-32 and 35-36. There is one simple question I have, but could not find online: should the 4th finger be positioned high (in between the black keys) or low? I've tried both, but they cause different problems (I have big hands):

In case of positioning the 4th finger in between the black keys it is harder to get it there, but easier to position the 5th finger afterwards without turning the wrist. Also, it is harder to remove it for the next 'run', because it is obstructed by the black key next to it.

In case of positioning the 4th finger lower, the first 3 notes feel more natural and easy, but positioning the 5th finger is hard. There is a big leap from 4th to 5th that seems to need a lot of turning of the wrist/elbow and after this the passing under of the thumb gets more involved.

I hope I explained this more or less clearly. I do not have a piano teacher (anymore) and could not find this information online, so any advice is highly appreciated!

Edit: here is a picture of bars 31-32

bars 31-32 and bars 35-36 bars 35-36

  • You mean the bars: F7, Abm/Cb, Bb7, E7/Bb, A .. right? Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 12:31
  • @Arsak I included pictures Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


In another answer to this Etude I've already mentioned that you need to move the hand and the entire upper body with the hands and arms very quickly across the piano keys from left to right (upwards) and back downwards, just as like you were wiping the keys by a big glissando. So far to the work of the wrist and elbow. Thus you don't have time to place your 4th finger between the black keys. I hope this explains what you have to do with your 4th finger: Keep it high.

But as you say you have big hands: why don't you try to play the whole passage with fingers 1,2,3,5 and not using the forth.

(By the way: In my edition there's a fingering in parentheses 2,3,1,3 in measure 31 and it's said that's only for hands that cannot grasp this exceptionally wide and difficult postition; otherwise the original fingering holds good.

I've looked at it again today: the alternative setting in measure 31 would also fit by 2314,2314 ... and:

notice there might be a foreword of the editor. In mine edition there's one in 3 languages giving more information about the original fingersetting of chopin and how he used to change them even in the process of printing.

  • Thank you. So to be sure: playing the 4th in between the black keys is not a good practice. I have to keep it in its natural position and work on the 'jump' from 4th to 5th finger. And even better if I use the 3rd finger. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 13:49
  • I suppose so, as otherwise it gets stuck between them or you need to turn the wrist a lot more. Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 14:05
  • You're not alone in struggling on this one by the way, measure 31 is by far the hardest in the song. Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 18:23

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