Frederic Chopin was a Polish French composer and pianist from the Romantic Era.
He was writing poetry and composing from an early age. He inherited some musical genes from his parents. His father taught French and played the flute and violin and his mother played the piano and gave lessons to boys at the boarding house they ran.
Some say that after listening to Niccolò Paganini play the violin in 1828 Chopin composed a set of variations, Souvenir de Paganini. This led him to write his first Études (3 sets of solos), and perform piano concerts, receiving positive reviews.
In 1831 Chopin travelled to Paris and never returned to Poland – (well this is not entirely correct as after his death Chopin’s heart was taken to Poland and placed in the church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw). Whilst in Paris he made some pretty famous friends such as Mendelssohn, Berlioz and Liszt.
Chopin’s partner of ten years Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin was best known by her pseudonym George Sand and also for her affairs with a number of artists. On his first encounter with her, Chopin exclaimed ‘what an unpleasant woman’ – He obviously changed his mind! She referred to him as ‘Chop Chop’, ‘Chopinet’ (my little grasshopper) and ‘Monsieur Velvet-fingers’. They eventually split up after a violent row in which Sand accused Chopin of being in love with her daughter.
Illness & Death
Chopin wasn’t a well man, in addition to tuberculosis he had epilepsy which caused him to have vivid dreams of dead relatives and ‘damned creatures’ inside his piano.
It is likely that tuberculosis took his life at the early age of thirty-nine. In the final moments before his death, Chopin asked a young countess to sing the national anthem of Poland. As she sung the last note he took his last breath. He is buried near his composer friend Cerubini, at a cemetery in Paris. Mozart’s Requiem was performed at his funeral.
Musical Downloads & Further Reading
Why not have a browse on music-scores.com and take a look at one of the 135 pieces of Chopin Sheet Music.
- Chopin’s Minute Waltz – well not far off, with its 138 bars, taking between 60 and 90 seconds to play, hence the nickname!