Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Life and Music
Frederic Chopin was born in Poland, west of Warsaw, on either February 22nd or March 1st 1810 - local records differ with when Chopin's parents claimed he was born.
Chopin was composing and writing poetry at six, and gave his first public concerto performance at the age of eight.
In 1822 Chopin came under the personal supervision of Jozef Elsner, the founder-director of the Warsaw Conservatory.
He became a leading advocate of 'absolute music', producing some of the earliest Romantic pieces and arguably the finest body of solo music for the piano.
Chopin dedicated his second piano concerto (1830) to Delfina Potocka, with whom he hit the headlines during the 1940s when a sensational series of highly erotic (forged) love letters were discovered.
In 1836 Chopin met the novelist George Sand (alias Aurore Dudevant), and so began one of the most famous love affairs in the history of music. The pair split up in 1847.
Chopin's Funeral March, one of the piano repertoire's most famous works, was composed in 1837.
By 1841, both sets of Chopin's Etudes had been published. They went on to become indispensable tomes for piano students everywhere.
Among the most famous of his works was composed late in his life - The Minute Waltz was finished in 1847.
Chopin's health began to deteriorate rapidly and he left for England at the invitation of his Scottish piano pupil, Jane Stirling.
He returned to Paris, where, despite gifts of money and many kind attempts to comfort him, he died on 17 October 1849.
Did you know?
Chopin paid for his expensive lifestyle by giving piano lessons to rich people in Paris. He never liked the idea of asking them for money, so would look away while they left the fee on his mantelpiece.
Top Chopin pieces
Fantaisie-Impromptu in C# minor Opus 66 Frederic Chopin (1810-1849 : Poland) Soloists: Nikolai Lugansky Record label: Onyx Catalogue ID: ONYX
Nocturne in Eb major Opus 9 No.2 Frederic Chopin Soloists: Nelson Freire Record label: Decca Catalogue ID: 478 2182
Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor Opus 11 (3) Frederic Chopin Conductor: Jerzy Semkow Ensemble: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Soloists: Rafal Blechacz Record label: Deutsche Grammophon Catalogue ID: 477 8088
Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor Opus 21 (3) Frederic Chopin Conductor: Andris Nelsons Ensemble: Staatskapelle Berlin Soloists: Daniel Barenboim Record label: Deutsche Grammophon Catalogue ID: 477 9520
Prelude in Db major Opus 28 No.15 Frederic Chopin (1810-1849 : Poland) Soloists: Martha Argerich Record label: Deutsche Grammophon Catalogue ID: 4618582
The fast and friendly guide to Chopin
Classic FM's Fast and Friendly Guide to Chopin