The twin Op. 40 Polonaises of the Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1 (nicknamed the Military Polonaise) and the Polonaise in C minor, Op. 40, No. 2 were composed by Frédéric Chopin in 1838.
Anton Rubinstein remarked that the Polonaise in A major is the symbol of Polish glory, whilst the Polonaise in C minor is the symbol of Polish tragedy.
The beginning opens with an A major chord and continues in a typical polonaise rhythm. The key then changes into D major in the middle of the polonaise for a trio section, after which the opening is repeated with no changes except disregarding the repeat signs. The piece is almost entirely played forte or louder, which makes for a bombastic performance.
During the September 1939 German invasion of Poland at the outset of World War II, Polskie Radio broadcast this piece daily as nationalistic protest, and to rally the Polish people.
The beginning of this piece is used as the interval signal for Polskie Radio.
This piece is played in the famous scene in the Polish film Ashes and Diamonds at the end of an all-night party celebrating the end of the war.
In Season 3, episode 2 of Rectify, the closing credits roll to the A major Polonaise after Teddy is shown stalking Tawny, his estranged wife.