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Music Encyclopedia

Frederic Francois Chopin (1810 - 1849)

A Polish-French composer and gifted pianist.

Chopin was born in Poland, a son of a Frenchman and a Polish woman, although most of his life was spent in Paris, Frederic was a patriot at heart to his native Poland.

His father came to Poland in 1787 and was in partnership in a tobacco business which failed and therefore he had to accept a position as a tutor to make ends meet.
Frederic was born February 22, 1810 at Zelazowa-Wola and entered the Warsaw Lyceum to study the fundamentals of harmony and counterpoint with Joseph Elsner.
Most of Chopin works were composed specifically for the piano
He wrote two piano concertos which were primarily his show pieces, he also wrote three sonatas and a variety of polonaises, mazurkas and etudes.

Chopins music is associated with the Romantic style, very expressive and refined. His music is very captivating reaching into the pathos of the human emotions much like Beethovens compostions. Chopins composition, Rondo in C minor was published in 1825 which springboarded him to prominence as a performer.
Chopin was invited to Vienna in 1829 where he presented his composition Krakowiak for piano and Orchestra.

Chopin himself was extremely vain throughout his life, which is reflected in his music and the way he dressed and conducted himself, which was done in an effeminate manner
Frederic Chopin left his country while in the midst of a major upheaval in the history of Poland which was under the oppression of Russian control brought on after the Napoleanic Wars.

The arts and humanities during this time had suffered greatly and Frederic made a decision to leave for Paris, France.
As he left for France his friends gave him a container of soil to remind of his homeland.

Once he arrived in Paris he was fortunate enough to perform at a concert in which Franz Liszt and Felix Mendelssohn attended. Once they heard this gifted young but fragile tiny man, they knew he was a force to be reckoned with.
Chopin was almost the alter ego of Liszt, Frederic being the recluse, who shunned the crowds and Liszt who loved the adoration. Chopin and Liszt became lifelong friends.

Coming to Paris was a blessing for Frederic which brought in money from recitals, concerts and music lessons he gave. His success in these areas established him as one of the leading pianists, as well as a music educator and composer. Chopin met Aurore Dudevant who is better known by her novelists pseudonym as George Sand, she was a woman who provided him with comfort and committed herself to his recovery from consumption that is tubercolosis. But his constant sickness was too much, she left him after nine years.

He died two years later from the effects of this dreadful disease.

January 29, 2001
Bryon Tosoff
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