Celebrating the 211th anniversary of Chopin’s birth
Born in Poland in 1810 Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin was very soon recognised as a child prodigy and, by the age of seven, he started giving public concerts as a pianist and composed his first piano pieces. In his early 20s he left Poland and made no return to his homeland, whereas he settled in Paris and acquired the French citizenship, also using the French version for his name. During his period in Paris Chopin developed relationships with his contemporary artists like Liszt, Berlioz and Delacroix, who is the painter who drafted the double portrait originally featuring also his lover George Sand. Now the two portraits are separated and in different locations, one in Paris, at the Louvre, and the other one in Copenhagen.
Chopin’s compositions, almost exclusively for piano solo, were intended primarily for the public of the salon concerts, social gatherings with artistic and literary overtones, hold by Parisian high society. As such the composer was much freer to innovate with looser musical forms, also emphasising the virtuoso and entertaining elements. Hence, apart from the few concertos and sonatas, most of Chopin’s musical production is represented by nocturnes, préludes, études and compositions inspired by Polish popular dance, like mazurkas, waltzes and polonaises.
During the Spring of 1848, while Paris was raged by a revolution, Chopin left the city to embark on a concert tour of England and Scotland, which was quite successful but showed the clear signs of his declining health. He returned to Paris at the end of November of that year and spent one more year there but died in October 1849 at the young age of 39. Attendance at his funeral at the Church of the Madeleine in Paris was restricted to ticket holders as many wanted to be there.