A Look at Frederic Chopin
Chopin is revered in the musical world, with some joking that he was Poland’s best export, along with Pope John Paul II.
Who Was He?
Frederic Chopin (1810 – 1849) was born in Poland, to a father who taught French and played the flute and violin, and to a mother who played the piano and gave lessons to local boys.
From a young age, Chopin displayed an interest in the piano, and so his parents chose for him to be tutored by WojciechŻywny,a Czech pianist. Żywny quickly determined that Chopin was a child prodigy and encouraged him to learn and advance his skills.
The results soon became obvious. At the age of seven, Chopin had not only performed his first concert, but had also begun to compose.
In 1826, Chopin moved to study at Elsner’s conservatory. His teachers gave him free reign to create, recognising his obvious talent.
At the age of twenty, after completing his education and touring through Germany and Italy, Chopin arrived to Paris. When he arrived, he was not in good health, and did not feel that he would be able to publically perform, especially when his competition included Franz Liszt and Sigismund Thalberg.
Chopin thus decided to compose and teach, and as he was already well-known, he was in high demand.
Chopin was said to be the first composer to dedicate himself solely to the piano, which is reflected in his pieces. They were created for the piano, either as a solo playing or with other instruments complementing the piece.
Yet his popularity stemmed from his ability to produce vivid and long-lasting emotions when playing. His pieces are tender, dramatic and show full musical expertise.
He was also popular because of the large variety of pieces that could be played. His work includes 25 preludes, 20 nocturnes, 15 polonaises, 58 mazurkas, 17 waltzes and 27 etudes.
In 1836, at a party hosted by a mutual friend, Chopin met Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, who is better known as George Sand. Sand was a French writer who had affairs with a variety of famous men and women, and even though she was six years older than Chopin, he was smitten with her.
In 1838, they began a love affair and in 1839, after treating his tuberculosis, they settled together in Sand’s country home.
It is said that the years when they lived together were the happiest years of his life. However, in the mid-40s, when his health began to decline once more, their relationship began to crumple.
It ended in 1848, leaving Chopin heart-broken. After a tour to the British Isles, Chopin returned to Paris where he lived until his death at the age of 39, in 1849.
Frederic Chopin was an incredibly talented composer and performer, who wrote many incredible pieces.