Thursday, March 31, 2011


According to Louis Aguittant, Chopin was "a personal poet and singer of his race." He was no doubt one of the most revolutionary of piano composers. Many feel that Chopin's style of piano composition and playing are the apotheosis of the Romantic era. Sometimes violent and heroic, at other times meloncholy and full of despair, Chopin's music is the source of a full spectrum of dramatic human emotion. Chopin was born in Poland in 1810, at the outset of the tumultuous Romantic period. Musically inclined at an early age, Frederic took piano lessons at the age of six. The prodigious boy published a polonaise the following year, and by the time he was eight, he was giving public performances. At the age of 12, Chopin began taking composing lessons from Polish musician Ksawery Elsner at the Warsaw Conservatory, which further developed his already impressive talents in both composition and improvisation. In 1827, he left the Conservatory to explore the world. He performed in Vienna in 1829, then returned to Poland. After the Russians captured his homeland in 1830, Chopin chose to make his musical home in Paris, where he befriended fellow Polish nationals Franz Liszt, Vicenzo Bellini, Honor_ de Balzac, and Heinrich Heine. He also met George Sand, a writer whose pen name was Madame Aurore Dudevant. His relationship with her, though initially platonic, turned intimate, and lasted seven years. During this time he lived with her at her in Paris, at her country home in Nohant, and in Majorca, where she took him to recover from illness. Chopin was a sickly man, continuously enduring a wide variety of afflictions. It was John Field who aptly said of Chopin, "He was dying all his life." In January 1849, Chopin succumbed to tuburculosis of the throat. During his lifetime, Chopin wrote many works, almost exclusively for the solo piano. Among other forms, these included Mazurkas, Studies, Preludes, Nocturnes and Waltzes.

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