Frédéric Chopin is known as one of the greatest piano composers of the 19th century, if you want to learn how to play his compositions you should start looking for the best digital piano on the market.
Some of his notable works “Heroic Polonaise”, “Berceuse”, “Preludes, Op. 28” and “Polonaise in G Minor”, gained him the recognition as one of the biggest composers of the Romantic period as well as Poland’s greatest composer.
Frédéric Chopin was born on March 1st, 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Poland. His father was a French émigré who worked as a tutor to aristocrats. This is how he met Justyna Krzyżanowska who became his wife. When Chopin was only eight months old, his father became a French teacher at a secondary school in Warsaw.
Through his father’s employment, Frédéric Chopin was exposed to the Warsaw society. His passion for music was born when he was still in his childhood. At just six years of age, he knew how to play the piano skillfully and he started composing tunes.
Once his family was convinced of his talents, Chopin became a pupil of Wojciech Zywny, a professional musician. The lessons he took with Zywny soon proved too simple for his level of skill. Given his unquestionable talent, Chopin was recognized as a child prodigy. By 1818, he was performing at private soirées and he was writing compositions such as the Polonaise in G Minor. At 11, he played for the Russian tsar Alexander I.
In 1826, his parents enrolled him in the Warsaw Conservatory of Music where he studied under Josef Elsner. The teacher-pupil relationship that the two developed proved fruitful. As a Romantic composer himself, Josef Elsner soon understood that Chopin’s imagination had to be encouraged and not suppressed by solely academic demands.
Elsner is also responsible for the folk and national elements that make Chopin’s creations so easy to identify. To widen his musical experience, his parents decided to send the young composer to Vienna, where he made his debut in 1829.
In 1830, he presented his new compositions, Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Piano Concerto No. 1 in E Minor to the public in Warsaw. His immense talent and his original piano style were greatly applauded.
Life in Paris
In the same year, he decided to visit Italy and Germany in an attempt to further his study. However, during his passing through Vienna he received news about the polish revolt against Russia and he chose to remain in Vienna. In July 1831, he continued his trip and went to Paris, the center of Europe and a focal point of the Romantic movement.
Once he realized this, Chopin started to frequent the company of other polish émigrés such as Liszt, Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, and Vincenzo Bellini. Soon after his arrival, Frédéric Chopin was acknowledged and accepted as an important Romantic composer.
During this period, he continued composing music and he became a sought-after piano teacher. His job as a teacher provided him with the economic stability that enabled him to continue to compose, without having to give concerts.
In 1832, Chopin met the Rothschild banking family and, given his sensitivity and elegance, became a regular in the private homes of the Parisian aristocrats as a recitalist, as well as a teacher.
In his youth, Chopin had several love affairs with Constantia Gladkowska, in Poland, and Maria Wodzińska, who, for a brief period became his fiancée, in Germany. However, his big love conquest was Aurore Dudevant, also known as the novelist George Sand. They met in 1838 and they spent the rest of the year in a small villa in Majorca.
As fall turned to winter and the weather became colder, Chopin fell ill and the first rumors of him suffering from tuberculosis first appeared. They were asked to leave their rented home in Majorca and they found accommodations in a monastery in Valldemosa, a remote village.
Because he had little money and no possibility to perform, his means of survival became scarce and his relationship with George Sand only raised more suspicions from the locals. Due to the numerous privations that he had to endure; his health worsened.
In an attempt to rescue him, Sand made plans for their departure. In March 1839, they arrived at Marseille, where, with the help of a physician, he recovered. In the summer of 1839, the two moved to Nohant, at Sand’s summer home.
At Nohant, Chopin was able to compose again and, many specialists argue that this period of his life was one of the most productive ones in his life. Here, he composed Fantaisie in F Minor, Barcarolle, Barcarolle and Sonata in B Minor. Apart from composing, in the time spent here, he started teaching again as a way of making a living.
After a period of dissension, in 1848, Chopin’s relationship with Sand ended. One of the possible reasons why this happened was Sand’s uncomplimentary depiction of their relationship in the novel Lucrezia Floriani. Even though both seemed to long for reconciliation, their strong sense of pride made it impossible for them to get back together.
Upset by the end of the relationship with Sand, and disillusioned with the revolution that started in Paris the same year, Chopin sought a way to leave the city. This became possible when he was invited to England and Scotland, that same year.
Even though he was well received in England, he found socializing tiring, and he was no longer able to compose. His health started to worsen and he gave his last performance on November 16th, 1848, in London, where he played for the Polish refugees.
The same year, he returned to Paris and, on the 17th of October 1949, and died, at only 3, of tuberculosis. He was buried at Père Lachaise, and his heart was entombed at the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw, near the place of his birth. The decision of having his heart buried in Poland came from Chopin itself. It is said that the composer had a fear of being buried alive.
Interesting facts about Frédéric Chopin
In his testament, Chopin asked that all his unpublished compositions be destroyed. However, his wish was ignored by his mother and sisters.
Given his easy-to-identify style, Chopin became a great influence on the works of many composers. Debussy is considered one of the biggest admirers of his music. So, it comes as no surprise that he dedicated many of his piano etudes to the Polish composer.
Even though he spent most of his time and life in France, Chopin never felt comfortable speaking French. This is the main reason why, all his life, he preferred speaking polish and identified as a polish citizen.
The relationship between Chopin and Liszt was one filled with tension. After Chopin’s death, Liszt wrote the first-ever biography of the Polish composer where he praised him for his immense talent. Throughout their friendship, however, there were numerous incidents where the two felt jealous of each other’s success.
For instance, Chopin dedicated his Etudes to Liszt but he felt hurt when he realized that Liszt played them better than he did. Similarly, it is said that Liszt was jealous of how much admiration his mistress had for Chopin.
When compared to the music pieces composed by his peers, Chopin wrote, in general, short pieces and he mostly wrote piano music.
Chopin was greatly influenced by Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Hummel, Mozart, and Clementi. Some argue that he actually used Clementi’s technique when teaching his students.
Frédéric Chopin grew up in a musical family. His father knew how to play the flute and the violin, and his mother was a piano teacher. She was the first to teach young Chopin how to play the instrument.
The first portrait of Chopin dates back to 1829, and it was painted by Ambrozy Mieroszcwski. The same year, the painter also completed portraits of the artist’s family.
Given that he only lived for 39 years, Chopin was a productive composer. Even though many of his early works were lost, we still have access to over 230 pieces that he created.
Chopin was the only son born to his family. He also had three other sisters. Out of all of them, the only sister that he remained close to after he moved to Paris was Ludwika. She was the only member of the family who was present during the last moments of his life.