Frédéric Chopin’s personal approach to technique revolutionized the piano. He developed unparalleled fingering and pedalage that shocked the musical world. His clearly established style set him apart from his peers. This consistent and unique style makes him the most notable composer of the Romantic period.
Chopin was born in Zellazowa Wola, Poland in the year 1810. His name was Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen, but he was most commonly known by the French pronunciation, Frédéric François Chopin. Raised in a family of musicians, Chopin developed a talent for the piano at a young age. His first public performance was at age seven, after which he began playing in Polish society. As a young adult, he attended the Warsaw Conservatory of Music where he was under the tutelage of Joseph Elsner. Elsner supported Chopin’s unique playing style and, while he insisted on Chopin studying musical theory and composition, Chopin was allowed to cultivate his individuality on the piano. After a handful of short musical tours, Chopin settled in Paris in 1830. He spent the remainder of his life there, battling with poor health while teaching piano and composing. Chopin never married, but his ten year relationship with the notorious female author, George Sand, was his most productive time and resulted “in a succession of masterpieces” (Hedley). The ending of their connection in 1848 caused “the beginning of the end” for Chopin (Frédéric François Chopin) and he died at the young age of 39 after a long struggle with depression and illness (Hedley).
Chopin’s music embodied multiple modes. While his boundary breaking harmonies and wide range of emotion were characteristic of Romanticism, many of his compositions followed the classical discipline of form. The Vancouver Chopin Society says it best, “his uniqueness sets him apart from Classicism and Romanticism in a world especially his own” (Dubal).
Chopin was the first composer to... [continues]
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