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 Edition Vol 9 - Piano Sonatas / Eugene Mursky
Release Date: 01/29/2013   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 4074   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: 24 Preludes, Etc / Louis Lortie
Release Date: 02/17/1998   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 9597   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: Piano Concerto No 2, Etc; Respighi / Cherkassky, Kempe
Release Date: 07/19/2005   Label: Profil  
Catalog: 4015   Number of Discs: 1
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Louis Lortie Plays Chopin Vol 3
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10813   Number of Discs: 1
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Chopin: The Complete Études / Louis Lortie
Release Date: 10/28/1992   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 8482   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Nocturne for Piano in C sharp minor, B 49

About This Work
This Nocturne was among the last works Chopin composed before departing Poland on November 2, 1830. Like many of his early compositions, it carries no opus number, and would not be published until well after his death -- in this case, not until 1870. Read more Its late appearance in print accounts for its high numbering: chronologically, it was not his 20th Nocturne, but only his second, written probably within a year or two of his initial effort, the E minor (ca. 1829). Both these early works already contain the intimate passion and melancholy character of Chopin's later nocturnes, as well as their unique harmonic sense.

The Nocturne in C sharp minor here opens with a brief introduction, a mixture of the stately and the desolate in its hesitant, ponderous character. The melancholy main theme is then presented, a lovely creation in its graceful trills and dark atmosphere. The mood brightens marginally in the secondary material, but still cannot break with the forlorn character established by the opening melody. The main theme returns in the latter half, now more resolute in its sadness, gradually becoming more despondent as the music gently fades away at the end. Lasting about four minutes, this lovely Nocturne is yet another gem among the many in Chopin's considerable keyboard output. Read less

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