Frederic Chopin- Former Piano Child Prodigy

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One of the most prominent Polish composers, Frederic Chopin, was born on March 1, 1810, in Żelazowa Wola, and died on October 17, 1849, in Paris. He left more than 230 fantastic compositions, often described as romantic, emotional, and poetic.

Early life

Frederic Chopin was a gifted, self taught pianist.

Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen on March 1, 1810, in the small village of Zelazowa Wola, Duchy of Warsaw (now Poland). His father, Nicholas, a French émigré, worked as a bookkeeper when he met and married Justyna Krzyzanowska. Soon after Chopin arrival, Nicholas found employment as a tutor for aristocratic families in Warsaw.

Music always played at the house of Chopin. Fryderyk demonstrated a musical talent very early on. The young boy first got familiar to the piano by his mother. In 1816-1822, Wojciech Żywny, a fiddler of Czech descent taught him piano. At seven, Fryderyk released his Polonaise in G minor and started performing in noble and elite homes.

In 1818, he presented two polonaises to Maria Feodorovna, mother of Tsar and Polish king, during her visit to Warsaw. The same year, Chopin’s father became a French professor in the Military Application School (previously, from 1812, he taught French language and literature at the School of Artillery and Engineering). In 1823, Józef Elsner started giving Fryderyk composition lessons, and from 1826 on, he taught him at the Main School of Music. As a pianist, Frederic Chopin was practically self-taught. He didn’t take graduation exams because he would need to dedicate one more year to studies at high school. However, it was possible to start higher education immediately after high school, without the need to take exams. Fryderyk demonstrated extraordinary skills. When he was graduating from university in 1829 (at the age of nineteen), Elsner gave him the following evaluation:

Frederic Chopin – exceptional aptitude, a musical genius.

Achievements at a glance

More than 230 of his compositions were preserved.

Chopin’s childhood and adolescence were the most joyful and careless periods of his life. Surrounded by great love from his family, he developed different talents – he drew caricatures of teachers, together with his sister, staged a miniature comedy play titled The Error, or Presumed Joker, and founded a children’s Literary Entertainment Society for the lodgers. Chopin also wrote greeting cards and rhymes. He had many friends among his peers. He was their pride and initiator of games and frolics.

Frederic Chopin is one of the most influential and famous composers of the piano music of the 19th century. In Poland, he rose to fame as the person who has had the most influence on the country’s music history . Chopin composed almost exclusively for piano solo and also called the pianists’ composer. He was a brilliant pianist, and his music was primarily an expression of poetry, emotion, depth, and delicate nuances.

More than 230 of his compositions kept preserved, only a few manuscripts and pieces from early childhood have been lost. There is a total of about 80 opus numbers. The piano is present in all of them, and most of them are for solo piano. Despite poor health and short life, Frederic Chopin’s works include 27 etudes, 26 preludes, 21 nocturnes, 58 mazurkas, 17 polonaises, 19 waltzes, 4 impromptus, 2 concertos, 4 ballades, 4 scherzos, and 3 sonatas as well as several other pieces.

His illness and death

Portrait of the renowned Polish pianist, Frederic Chopin.

By the mid-1840s, both Chopin’s health and his relationship with Sand were deteriorating. His behavior had also become erratic, possibly due to an undiagnosed form of epilepsy. Their affair ended in 1848 after, among other things, George Sand’s(a novelist) unflattering portrayal of their relationship in her 1846 novel Lucrezia Floriani. In the end, both parties could not reconcile, and Chopin’s spirit and health deteriorated. He made an extended tour to the British Isles, where he struggled under an exhausting schedule, making his last public appearance on November 16, 1848. He then returned to Paris, where he died on October 17, 1849, at age 39. Frederic’s body buried at Père Lachaise cemetery. The heart kept interred at a church in Warsaw near his birth.

Also read: Felix Mendelssohn- former child prodigy and a timeless, talented musician

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