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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 Recital / Andrew Rangell
Release Date: 11/11/2014   Label: Steinway & Sons  
Catalog: 30038   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin, Schumann: Etudes / Valentina Lisitsa
Release Date: 11/10/2014   Label: Decca  
Catalog: 002224502   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Complete Piano Music Vol 7 / Idil Biret
Release Date: 09/28/1999   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8554533   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Complete Piano Music Vol 15 / Idil Biret, Et Al
Release Date: 09/28/1999   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8554541   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Piano Concerto No 2; Variations On
Release Date: 10/26/2010   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8572336   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Concerto for Piano No. 2 in F minor

 

About This Work
The Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin was actually composed before his Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor. The F minor was begun in autumn 1829 and premiered on March, 3, 1830, while the E minor was begun Read more shortly after the premiere of the F minor. The F minor is a less popular and more derivative work than the E minor; there is the sense that Chopin, having heard the F minor, decided to move beyond his models. The opening Maestoso movement of the F minor is clearly modeled on the concertos of Mozart's pupil, Hummel. The central Larghetto is based almost literally on the Piano Concerto in G minor composed in 1820 by Ignaz Moscheles and the closing Allegro vivace is the most original movement of the three, a stylized Polish folk song. Within the movements, all the standard concerto principles are obeyed: an orchestra exposition of the main themes before a piano exposition of the same material, the usual contrast between the tonic minor and the relative major for the principal and subordinate themes, a lyrical slow movement in the relative minor, and a rondo-form finale in the tonic major. While Chopin's piano writing is idiomatic and highly personal -- the lyrical melodies and their ornamentations could have been composed by no one else -- his orchestral writing is at best competent. This, however, is less a fault than a decision: Chopin, the greatest composer for the piano of his age, would never let anything obscure the brilliance of his piano writing.

-- James Leonard, All Music Guide Read less

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