(Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin; Zelazowa Wola, present-day Poland, 1810 – Paris, 1849) Polish composer and pianist. If the piano is the quintessential romantic instrument, it is largely due to the contribution of Frédéric Chopin: at the opposite end of the orchestral pianism of his contemporary Liszt (representative of the most extroverted and passionate, almost exhibitionist facet of Romanticism), the Polish composer explored an intrinsically poetic style, a lyricism as refined as subtle, that has not yet been equaled.

There are certainly few musicians who, through the exploration of the timbral and dynamic resources of the piano, have made the instrument “sing” with mastery with what he did. And the song was precisely the basis, the essence, of his style as an interpreter and as a composer.

Son of a French teacher emigrated to Poland, Chopin was a child prodigy who from six years began to frequent the great halls of the Polish aristocracy and bourgeoisie, where he astonished the attendees thanks to his amazing talent. From that time also date their first forays into the composition.

Wojciech Zywny was his first teacher, followed by Jozef Elsner, director of the Warsaw School of Music. His valuable teachings provided a solid theoretical and technical foundation to the boy’s talent, who since 1829 began his professional career as a soloist with a series of concerts in Vienna.

The failure of the Polish revolution of 1830 against the Russian power caused his exile in France, where he soon became known as pianist and composer, until becoming the favorite of the great Parisian salons. In them he met some of the best composers of his time, such as Berlioz , Rossini , Luigi Cherubini and Vincenzo Bellini , and also, in 1836, which was to be one of the great loves of his life, the writer George Sand .

Because of its novel nature and the incompatibility of the characters of one and the other, their relationship has been given to infinity of interpretations. They separated in 1847. By then Chopin was severely affected by tuberculosis that would take him two years later to the grave. In 1848 he made one last tour of concerts in England and Scotland, which ended with an extraordinary success.

The work of Chopin

Except the two juvenile concertos for piano and some other concert work ( Fantasy on Polish airs Op. 13 , Krakowiak Op. 14 ) or chamber music ( Sonata for cello and piano ), Chopin’s entire production is directed to his musical instrument, the piano , of which he was an incomparable virtuoso. However, his music is far from being a mere vehicle for this same virtuosity: in his compositions there is much of the classical tradition, of Mozart and Beethoven , and also something of Bach , which confers on his works a technical and formal scope that is not found in other contemporary composers, more fond of salon aesthetics.

The melody of the Italian operettas, with Bellini in the first place, and the folklore of his Polish homeland, evident in his series of mazurkas and polonaises, are other influences that give his music its peculiar and inimitable physiognomy.

To all this we must add the personality of the musician, who although in the first stage cultivated the classical forms ( Sonata No. 1 , the two piano concertos), from the mid-1830s he preferred other more free forms and simple, like the impromptus, preludes, fantasies, scherzi and dances.

These works are as brilliant – if not more so – as those of their predecessors, John Field and Carl Maria von Weber , but which do not seek so much brilliance in themselves as the expression of a secret ideal; lounge music that surpasses the aesthetic criteria of a specific historical moment. His nocturnal poetics are an excellent proof of this: of exquisite expressive refinement, they have a lyrical quality hardly explicable with words.

 

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Chopin