CHOPIN - Polonaises

Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish
composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily
for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician
of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional
technique that was without equal in his generation."

Chopin was born in the Duchy of Warsaw in a small town called
Żelazowa Wola (eng. Steel Will), within months of his birth the Chopin
family moved to Warsaw the capital of the Duchy, where Fryderyk grew up
and learned to play; in 1815 the Duchy became the Kingdom of Poland. A
child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his
earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less
than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising. At the
age of 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter—in the last 18 years of his
life—he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate
atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his
compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high
demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by
many of his other musical contemporaries (including Robert Schumann). In
1835, when Chopin obtained French citizenship he became . After a
failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an
often troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin
(known by her pen name, George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to
Majorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive
periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially
by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit
Scotland in 1848. For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He
died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39, probably of pericarditis
aggravated by tuberculosis.

All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo
piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces,
and some 19 songs set to Polish lyrics. His piano writing was
technically demanding and expanded the limits of the instrument: his own
performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity. Chopin
invented the concept of the instrumental ballade. His major piano works
also include mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, études,
impromptus, scherzos, preludes and sonatas, some published only
posthumously. Among the influences on his style of composition were
Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J.S. Bach, Mozart, and
Schubert, and the atmosphere of the Paris salons of which he was a
frequent guest. His innovations in style, harmony, and musical form, and
his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout
and after the late Romantic period.

Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars,
his (indirect) association with political insurrection, his high-profile
love-life, and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the
Romantic era. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of
numerous films and biographies of varying historical fidelity.

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