This tune has to be one of the most downbeat ever written. It’s so deep and gloomy it makes Leonard Cohen sound like Samanda. That means it’s not entirely convincing on the usually light and sprightly uke. The Funeral March is probably best played as a little throwaway joke than a serious piece.
This website quotes the painter Felix Ziem on the writing of this piece.
Some time later Chopin came into my studio, just as George Sand depicts him – the imagination haunted by the legends of the land of frogs, besieged by nameless shapes. After frightful nightmares all night, in which he had struggled against specters who threatened to carry him off to hell, he came to rest in my studio. His nightmares reminded me of the skeleton scene and I told him of it. His eyes never left my piano, and he asked: ‘Have you a skeleton?’ I had none; but i promised to have one that night, and so invited Polignac to dinner and asked him to bring his skeleton. What had previously been a mere farce became, owing to Chopin’s inspiration, something grand, terrible and painful. Pale, with staring eyes, and draped in a winding sheet, Chopin held the skeleton close to him, and suddenly the silence of the studio was broken by the broad, slow, deep, gloomy notes. The ‘Dead March’ was composed there and then from beginning to end.
My favourite game with this tune is to play it as slowly as I can without slipping into a coma.