His melodies haunt you with their beauty, and his harmonies and delicate passagework for the piano still astonish us with their freshness. Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) wrote almost exclusively for the piano—preludes and ballades and mazurkas and nocturnes and concertos; Chopin is the pianist’s composer. He is so universally loved that you voted him our No. 6 most essential composer.
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Here are some interesting facts about Chopin:
- As French as he seems to be, he was born outside of Warsaw. And though he is a Polish national hero, he left his native land at age 20 and never returned. He made his career in Paris.
- He was a child prodigy on the piano .
- A pulmonary disease from a young age left him too weak to establish a career as a concert pianist. But the soft brilliance and colors of his playing became legendary in private concerts called “salons.”
- Every composition of his is written for, or includes, the piano .
- He said his two greatest musical influences were Bach and Mozart .
- He made his living as a piano teacher; for Chopin, teaching was a calling.
- On his deathbed he requested that all his unpublished music be destroyed. That didn’t happen .
Listen to Meridee Duddleston’s interview with pianist Chad Lawson and “the dreamiest Chopin you’ve ever heard”!