In Chopin’s 21 Nocturnes we encounter some of the most sublimely beautiful music ever written for piano. The Romantic idiom of these “night songs,” with their atmosphere of yearning nostalgia, was perfectly matched with Chopin’s talents and inclinations. The genre of the nocturne was first developed by the Irish composer John Field. Chopin knew Field’s nocturnes well and built upon his foundation. Another source of inspiration was Italian bel canto opera, exemplified by the works of Chopin’s friend Vincenzo Bellini. Whatever his sources of inspiration, however, Chopin’s nocturnes represent the highest realization of the form, despite the fine subsequent efforts of composers including Schumann, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Fauré, Scriabin, and Szymanowski.