About Fryderyk Chopin

Frederyk ChopinFryderyk Chopin (1810-49) is universally recognized as a highly significant and influential composer. His original approach to writing for the piano, combining poetic lyricism with seemingly effortless virtuosity, gives his music a distinct flavor. Two hundred years after his birth, Chopin’s harmonies, textures and figurations still seem vital and fresh, captivating audiences and challenging performers today as they did in his lifetime.

The son of a Polish mother and French father, Chopin was born at Zelazowa Wola, not far from Warsaw. He spent only the first twenty years of his short life in Poland during troubled times in the nation’s history. Nonetheless he was profoundly influenced by the country of his birth in the development of both his personality and his music. For his countrymen in Poland and abroad, the music of Chopin remains a symbol of pride and patriotism.

In 1830, having shown great promise as a pianist-composer, Chopin set off on what was planned as a European tour. He left Poland as a mature composer with a fully formed personal style and an impressive portfolio of compositions: works in the classical sonata and rondo forms, pieces exploring style brilliant and variation technique, national dances and songs characterized by their Polish flavor, two concertos for piano and orchestra and a dazzling set of virtuosic etudes, demonstrating his originality and revolutionary approach.

The remaining years of Chopin’s life were spent in Paris. Here he became part of exclusive social circles that included illustrious musicians and artists, Franz Liszt, Eugene Delacroix, Heinrich Heine and Victor Hugo amongst them. Much has been written about Chopin’s relationship with the colorful novelist Aurore Dudevant, better known as George Sand, which unfolded over a decade that witnessed the composition of some of his most admired works.

Chopin made frequent appearances in the most prestigious salons of Paris but, for a pianist of this stature, played in relatively few public concerts. Throughout his life he was plagued with poor health, battling the tuberculosis that would lead to his death at the age of 39. Although buried at the Pere-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, his heart was brought back to his beloved homeland. To this day it lies in the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw where admirers from around the world come to pay homage.

Unlike most composers of his time, Chopin’s creative work was focused almost exclusively on the piano. He composed neither symphonies nor operas, yet his music has had a profound influence on generations of future composers. His musical legacy is revealed in the elegance of the waltzes, lyricism of the nocturnes, poetry of the ballades, grandeur of the polonaises, subtlety of the mazurkas and brilliance of the etudes.

Dr. Janet Lopinski
Artistic Director, Canadian Chopin Society