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: 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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The Russian Archives - Evgeny Kissin Plays Chopin & Liszt
Release Date: 06/26/2012   Label: Brilliant Classics  
Catalog: 94397   Number of Discs: 3
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Chopin: Cello Sonata, Piano Trio / Ewa Kupiec, Johannes Moser, Kolja Blacher
Release Date: 09/09/2014   Label: Hänssler Classic  
Catalog: 93321   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Waltz for Piano in A flat major, B 131/Op. 42 "Grande Valse"

 

About This Work
Frédéric Chopin's Valse in A-flat major, Op.42, is one of several of his works in the form that seem to actually be intended, to at least some degree, for use in the ballroom (as opposed to the many which are more properly dance-poems Read more not intended for human feet). This aristocratic work, published in 1840 (also the year during which it was most likely composed), is considered by many to be the finest of Chopin's many waltzes (the consummate craftsmanship and noble tone of the work compelled Robert Schumann to declare that if it is to be danced by mortal men and women, "half the ladies should be countesses at least").

An eight-bar introductory trill on the dominant calls the dancers, be they real or imagined, to their stations. The opening melody of the work is a lilting theme in duple time (striking in its constant, good- natured conflict with the underlying three-four meter and left-hand accompaniment), while a recurrent passage in far-flung eighth-notes and two melodies of less rhythmic activity (one, marked sostenuto, of greater duration and harmonic variety than the other) round off this colorful, well-balanced work. The traditional accelerando/crescendo is used in conclusion. Read less

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