Monday, March 1, 2010

Chopin turns 200!

Subject: Frederic Chopin

Born: March 1, 1810 in Warsaw

Died: October 17, 1849 in Paris of tuberculosis, although recently people have speculated that he may have had cystic fibrosis.

Known for: piano music! Chopin composed nearly exclusively for the piano. He did write a cello sonata and a piano trio, both of which feature...... the piano!

Child prodigy? Yes. Chopin was outplaying his first piano teacher at age 7. He penned his first compositions that same year. He was compared to Mozart and Beethoven.

Contribution to music: Chopin was a pioneer in form. He was responsible for inventing new forms such as the instrumental ballade as well as seriously tweaking existing forms such as the sonata, waltz, etude, etc. He also pushed the harmonic envelope with his use of chromaticism and dissonance.

Happy or neurotic?: Leaning more toward neurotic. Chopin wasn't particularly lucky in love. He never married, but had a few long-term tumultuous romances that never quite worked out, most notably with writer George Sand. He was also quite sickly for most of his life.

Strange fact: Chopin was terrified of being buried alive. When he died, his heart was taken out of his body and preserved per his request. The Polish government now has control / possession of his heart.

Here is Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii, one of the 2009 gold metal winners of the Cliburn Competition performing Chopin's Twelve Etudes, Op. 1.

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