Frédéric Chopin

Frederick-Chopin

Born: Febraury 22nd, 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Poland
Died: October 17th, 1849 (at age 39) in Paris, France
Nationality: Polish
Fields: virtuoso pianist and composer
Famous For: Many influential compositions

Frédéric Chopin was a Polish composer and pianist. He is considered to be Poland’s greatest composer and one of the best Romantic piano composers. He only gave thirty performances in thirty years, but his works left a profound effect on other composers and pianists across the world.

Early Life

Chopin was born near Warsaw, Poland in February,1810. His mother was Polish and his father was French. While very young, Chopin exhibited artistic talents such as writing poetry, and playing the piano with no formal instruction. This gifted child began composing music and his first work was published when he was only seven years old.

He had a very good education and was taught music privately by Joseph Elsner, the founder of the Warsaw Conservatory. In 1817, his first composition was publicly performed. One year later, Chopin performed in public when he played a concerto by Adalbert Gyrowetz. During this time, he was beginning to be compared with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, another composer that had displayed great talent when he was young.

Musical Training

Chopin became a student at the Elsner Conservatory in 1826. He acquired an outstanding foundation in musical theory, melody and harmony. Elsner soon recognized that Chopin’s style was very innovative so he granted him the freedom to create his own original compositions.

He visited Berlin, Germany, and was exposed to music composed by Felix Mendelssohn and George Frederick Handel. Chopin felt that he should leave Warsaw so he could discover other musicians. He travelled to Vienna, Austria, to see if he could get his works published. Chopin had a very successful first appearance at the Kärntnerthor Theater in August of 1829. He then returned home to plan for his concert tour in Italy and Germany. In Vienna, he composed the “G Minor Ballade” and the “B Minor Scherzo,” as well as several others that demonstrated his developed personal style.

Middle Years and Death

When Chopin went to Paris in 1831. His poor health kept him from performing in public. However, he became a very important figure in many Parisian artistic circles. He had many friends who were writers, musicians, and painters, along with several wealthy women who admired him. Chopin preferred composing to playing concerts because of his fragile health.

Over the years, Chopin had been attracted to several young ladies, and his most famous relationship was with Aurore Dudevant, also known as George Sand. Chopin met her in 1836. She was his closest companion for nine years, starting in 1838. During this time, he composed the “Funeral March” and later it became a part of his “B-flat Minor Sonata.” In spite of faltering health, Chopin finished his twenty-four preludes in Majorca.

In 1846, he started having problems with his relationship with Sand and they separated. Chopin’s health started to fail, and he became completely uninterested in composing any new works. He then left for England, and he gave many private concerts in London. He also gave a performance for Queen Victoria. Chopin went to Scotland to rest and returned to London in the autumn of 1848. On November 16th, he performed a benefit at Guildhall for Polish refugees. Next, Chopin went back to Paris, where he died from tuberculosis in October of 1849.

Legacy

Even though Frédéric Chopin’s total work was somewhat smaller compared to other outstanding composers, his concertos in E minor and his B flat minor sonatas continue to be some of the most popular works in classical music today.