Sunday, December 16, 2007

Chopin, Frederic

Born in Zelazowa Wola, a small city near Warsaw, Poland on February 22, 1810. He first studied the piano at the Warsaw School of music. By his early teens, he was quite good. He played his first public convert at age 7. He toured Europe, giving concerts. He never wrote music for orchestra alone, but he composed more than 200 piano pieces that rank him among the worlds leading composers.
Chopin had a great appreciation of the effects that the piano could produce. His sonatas contain some beautiful music, but his finest works are in forms that he himself worked out or perfected. These include four ballades, four large-scale scherzos, about 40 mazurkas in a characteristic Polish 3/4 dance rhythm, more than 25 etudes, more than 20 nocturnes, about 15 polonaises in a stately Polish dance rhythm, some 18 waltzes, a barcarolle, a berceuse, a bolero, a fantaisie, a fantaisie-impromptu, three impromptus, a tarantelle, and rondos. Chopin was the only son of a French father and a Polish mother. In 1836, he proposed to a Polish girl, but her parents disapproved. Later he became friendly with the woman novelist George Sand. He traveled with her to the Mediterranean island of Majorca in the winter of 1838-1839 where his already weak health was undermined. He was gravely ill of tuberculosis by the time his relationship with her ended in a quarrel in 1847. A visit to Scotland during bad weather in 1848 further weakened him. Later that year, the Paris revolution, which overthrew King Louis Philippe, upset his way of life.
Chopin moved away from Poland permanently during the beginning of war between Russia and Poland. His friends gave him a silver goblet filled with Polish soil. He was never able to return again. He wrote many sad musical pieces expressing his grief for "his" Poland. He became very homesick. He found solace in summer visits to the country. Before he died, he requested the polish soil be poured over his grave. During his funeral, one of his own funeral marches was played.

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