Born in Poland and living in Paris for most of his life, Chopin composed all sorts of Romantic music for the piano. This music is still highly popular today when played by piano virtuosos. For almost ten years, Chopin lived with the famous French writer, George Sand (Amandine Dupin). After twenty years of pouring out his heart into his highly inventive and emotional music, he died of consumption (tuberculosis) -- at the age of just 39 years.
Chopin: The Genius Who Wrote the Revolutionary Etude
Frédéric Chopin, the great Polish-French composer and pianist, wrote all sorts of romantic music for the piano -- mazurkas, polonaises, nocturnes, ballades, and more.
Life of Chopin
Frédéric Chopin was born in Poland in 1810. He was musically precocious and composed his first piece of music at the age of seven. He performed in public for Czar Alexander I of Russia at the age of eleven.
He studied at the Warsaw Conservatory in the years from 1826 to 1829. His teacher, Józef Elsner, recognized Chopin's "musical genius" and allowed his student to mature "according to the laws of his own nature" (rather than constraining his studies with narrow, academic rules).
Chopin visited Berlin and Vienna. He continued performing in public and composing and received increasing recognition. All this occurred against the uprisings by Polish patriots against the repressive Russian rule of their country.
In 1831 Chopin went to live in Paris. He would never return to live in Poland. In the French capital he played a number of concerts and became a darling of the intellectual salons. He met important composers who lived in Paris -- such as Liszt, Berlioz, Mendelssohn and Bellini.
Liszt introduced Chopin to the female French novelist, George Sand (known also as Amandine Dupin and Madame Dudevant), with whom he was to have a close relationship in the years 1838 to 1847.
Chopin kept composing and taught wealthy piano students, with the result that he only occasionally gave public piano recitals (in fact, it is said that he gave just over 30 public performances in his whole life).
In the years 1838-39, Chopin was in declining health and he and George Sand spent an uncomfortable summer on the island of Majorca. His relationship with Sand ended after a quarrel in 1847.
His final years were spent in Paris, where he died (it is said of tuberculosis) in 1849. He was buried there in the Pere-Lachaise Cemetery.
Chopin - Fantasie Impromptu
Pianist: Valentina Igoshina
The Musical Works of Chopin
Chopin's musical works included (in numerically descending order):
- 59 mazurkas
- 27 etudes (for example, the Revolutionary Etude)
- 27 preludes
- 21 nocturnes
- 20 waltzes (for example, the Minute Waltz)
- 18 polonaises
- 4 ballades
- 4 impromptus (for example, the Fantasie Impromptu)
- 3 sonatas
- 2 piano concertos
- 1 funeral march
Frédéric Chopin - Prelude in E Minor (op. 28, no. 4)
Pianist: Aldona Dvarionaite. So sad and lonely!
The Heritage of Frederic Chopin
Frédéric Chopin was one of the most important composers of the Romantic era.
He is regarded as the master of the piano keyboard. He was one of the main composers ever to have extended the mechanical and expressive capacities of the piano. It was Chopin who, above all, as a composer proved that the piano was a worthy solo concerto instrument for classical music.
As a performer, he showed innovative ways of playing the piano, using a lighter, more responsive touch.
As a composer, he wrote clear, transparent, singing (cantabile) melodies which had a romantic, personal and often somewhat melancholic and fragile shade to them. HIs pieces often showed great ranges and changes of mood and rhythm. His works exhibited a sense of great lyricism and beautiful harmonies.
Chopin was also a nationalist composer. His heart was always with his poor, downtrodden homeland of Poland. Many of his pieces drew an inspiration from the rhythms and melodies he had heard in Poland during his youth. He composed music to accompany a number of Polish texts.
Frédéric Chopin and George Sand
Frédéric Chopin and George Sand (oil painting after sketch by Eugène Delacroix)