Fre’deric Francois Chopin (1810-1849)

Chopin was a pivotal figure in the history of the piano.He wrote music ideally suited to the ” new” instrument that was quickly evolving during his life.As a result of these developments in piano technology instruments were capable of producing a broader palate of colours than their predecessors.They also allowed pianists to execute much faster  more intricate,delicate passage -work than earlier instruments.Chopinusedtheseelements of the new pianos,along with the sound altering capabilities of the una cords pedal,to create music full of subtly interwoven melodies and colourful,modal harmonies.He created and expanded role for the piano as a solo instrument ,performing his own fluid,expressive music with a delicate touch and tremendous sensitivity.Virtually all of his compositions were eitherpieces for solo piano or pieces that featured the piano prominently,aunique preoccupatio fora composer of the romantic era.

Born ear Warsaw,Poland,to a Polish mother and a Frenchfather,Chopin was an u de iable prodigy.The boy’s precociousplayingopened many doors in the Warsaw salons,where he quickly became the darling of society.Chopin revealed in the elegance and style of that world.He began writing music as a child,publishing his first pieces at the age of seven.Followinghis eduacationat the Warsaw Co servatory,he left Poland for Vienna on 1830to make a name for himself in a cultural capital.He eventually settled in Paris,where he became s sought after teacher ,and again a favourite performer in the salons of the wealthy and aristocratic ,where educated,cultured people gathered to hear the latest music,poetry,or literature of the day.

Famous for his fussy ,fashionable clothing and handsome face,Chopinled a pampered life.A small,frail man weighing just 7 stones,he was very sensitive about his physical stature because he felt it kept him from making a resonant,ample tone on the piano,which he would have liked.Accordingly ,Chopin enjoyed playing in the small salons,or drawing rooms.He felt these spaces were suited to his relatively small sound and did not cause him the nervous tension he felt when playing in large halls.In fact,Chopin’s legendary reputation as a performer was built on a total of about40 concert hall performances.On one such occasion,he was heard by Schumann who extolled him as a genius.

Choose in was never able to return to Poland ,due to the political upheaval and war there,but he missed his homeland deeply.He loved to incorporate some of t old music of his homeland,weaving into his piano music.Although he never married,he did sustain a ten year relationship with the bold George Sand(Aurore Dudevant).Shelived a wildly bohemian,outspokenlifestyle,smoking cigars and dressing in men’s clothing.She became a tender,maternal care-giver to the composer,creating the happiest ,most productive years of his short life.Chopin’s frail health,diminished by tuberculosis,deteriorated during their years tighter,plummeting after their break up.He died two years later,aged 39,and was buried in Paris.At his funeral,Mozart’s requiem was performed,and it was attended by around 3,000 people.

He remains,to this day,a giant among composers for the Pianoforte.


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