Frédéric Chopin

Biography

Born: 1810   Died: 1849   Period: Romantic
Frédéric Chopin has long been recognized as one of the most significant and individual composers of the Romantic age. The bulk of his reputation rests on small-scale works that in other hands would have been mere salon trifles: waltzes, nocturnes, preludes, mazurkas, and polonaises (the last-named two groups reflecting his fervent Polish nationalism). These works link poetically expressive melody and restless harmony to high technical demands. Read more Even his etudes survive as highly appealing concert pieces by emphasizing musical as well as technical values.

His birth date is a matter of controversy; the town registration of his birth specifies February 22, but Chopin always gave the date as March 1. His father was French, his mother Polish; he was raised in Warsaw by a family that mingled with intellectuals and members of the middle and upper classes, and as a teenager he spent two summers in the country, where he was exposed to Polish folk music. By the age of eight he was recognized as a child prodigy, performing in elegant salons and beginning to write his own pieces. Early on he studied composition with Josef Elsner, then took classes in various other music subjects as well as art and literature at the Warsaw Lyceum. In 1826 he enrolled at the University of Warsaw. He gave his first recital in Vienna in 1829, and over the next few years he performed at home and through much of German and Austria as well as in Paris. Feeling limited by Warsaw's cultural provincialism and uncomfortable with the publicity surrounding his performances there, he settled in Paris in 1832 and established himself as an exorbitantly paid piano teacher. In Paris he composed extensively, but limited his performances mainly to private salons.

In 1838 he began an affair with French novelist George Sand. The couple, along with Sand's children, spent a harsh winter in Majorca, where Chopin's health plummeted and he was diagnosed with consumption (tuberculosis). Chopin settled in with Sand in France, composing steadily although his increasing perfectionism slowed his output. By the mid-1840s, though, his health and romantic situation both had deteriorated. The affair ended in 1847 after, among other things, Sand had portrayed their relationship unflatteringly in her 1846 novel Lucrezia Floriani. Chopin then made an extended visit to the British Isles, but returned to Paris to die in 1849. Read less
Chopin: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Costa, Varga
Release Date: 08/10/2010   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28690   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Piano Concertos / Fliter, Markl, Scottish CO
Release Date: 03/25/2014   Label: Linn Records  
Catalog: 455   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Polonaise in F sharp minor, Nocturne in B flat minor, Ballade no 1 / O'Hora
Release Date: 08/09/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28980   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Works for Solo Piano Vol 2 / Ronan O'Hora
Release Date: 10/11/2011   Label: Royal Philharmonic Masterworks  
Catalog: 28970   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Etudes Op. 10 & 25 /	Lukas Geniusas
Release Date: 09/24/2013   Label: Dux Records  
Catalog: 834   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Waltzes (3) for Piano, Op. 34: no 2 in A minor, B 64

 

About This Work
Viennese waltz style was a thing almost entirely foreign to Frédéric Chopin, and when the Polish-born, Parisian-based composer returned from a journey to the Austrian capital he declared to a friend that, "I have acquired nothing Read more of that which is specially Viennese by nature, and accordingly I am still unable to play valses." To Chopin, as a result, it was left to reinvent the form on his own terms (though a certain debt to Weber's Invitation to the Dance is apparent). Chopin's very individualized waltz output falls easily into two categories: sparkling, highly ornamented little jewels suitable for actual ballroom use, or more purely musical miniatures that are far removed indeed from the fashionable Viennese waltzes of his time. The Trois Valses brillantes, Op.34 contains one example of the former category (the first of the group) and two of the latter (the second and third). Very different in tone is the Valse brillante in A minor, Op.34, No.2 that follows (indeed, the title Valse Brillant hardly seems appropriate for such a melancholy, subdued work). Of all his waltzes this was Chopin's favorite; he positively bathes himself in languor and longing throughout. A change of mode (to A major) at bar fifty-three ushers in a melody of striking loveliness, which, in a moment of bittersweet inspiration, is echoed in the minor mode some sixteen bars later. The opening sixteen-bar gesture is brought back (after a coda that asks the right hand to take over the characteristic waltz-figuration as the left one indulges in running eighth-notes) to serve as a conclusion. Read less

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