The Hands of Music: Frédéric François Chopin
Born in Zelazowa Wola in the Duchy of Warsaw on 1 March 1810, Frédéric François Chopin would become the composer of the world’s most famous waltzes and nocturnes.
A half-Polish half-French child prodigy, Chopin completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at age 20.
Growing up in a musical family, he began composing at an extremely young age. Eventually, he went to live in Vienna in 1829 and moved again to live in Paris in 1831 where he eventually settled at age 21.
He was known to prefer intimate atmospheres for his performances and only gave 30 public performances. In fact, his favourite place to perform was a salon.
In order to financially support himself, Chopin gave piano lessons and sold his compositions which reduced the need for him to give performances for money. It was during this time too that he formed a friendship with Liszt and had a brief acquaintance with Felix Mendelssohn!
His compositions all included the piano and they were technically demanding, expanding the limits of the instrument. His own performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity.
Needless to say, Chopin is considered one of the greatest masters of Romantic music, both an influential composer and a virtuoso pianist.
His major piano works included waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, mazurkas, etudes and more. His most famous compositions are Fantasie-Impromptu, Nocturne in B flat minor, Waltz in C# minor and so on. To this day, his works leave a huge impact and are still played throughout the world.
Unfortunately, Chopin was ill for most of his life and in 1849 in Paris, Chopin passed away at age 39. Still, his legacy lives on through the hundreds of compositions he has left behind.