Frederic Chopin

Frédéric Chopin, (1810 -1849) a world-famous composer, can be defined as a Pole, or essentially French; but with his artistic work he is also considered as a citizen of the world.

The Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk (Frédéric) Franciszek Chopin was born in Ĺ»elazowa Wola, near Warsaw, probably on 1 March 1810 , and died in Paris on 17 October 1849. Chopin spent his early life in Warsaw, where he studied privately with Adalbert Ĺ»ywny and at the High School of Music with Józef Elsner. From an early age his talents were much in demand in the leading aristocratic households in Warsaw, and he continued to move freely in such circles when he moved to Paris in 1831 . Although he clearly drew much of his inspiration from a private, idealized image of Poland, Chopin found his way of life in Paris congenial and soon put to the back of his mind any thoughts of returning to his homeland. He made a comfortable living from teaching and from sales of his published music, and he enjoyed the friendship of some of Europe's most eminent artists and composers.

After the failure in 1837 of his plans to marry Maria Wodzińska, a Polish girl of good family, Chopin found himself increasingly involved with the novelist George Sand ; the next ten years of his life were dominated by that relationship, though it seems that they were lovers in the accepted sense for only a short time. These were productive years for Chopin, and when the relationship ended in 1847 he composed little more.

The answer to the question about the artist’s nationality appears to be crucial not only as a matter of form, but most of all because of the need to develop a deeper understanding of his works. The influence of native culture on Chopin’s world view, his concern over the tragic fate of his homeland had a direct bearing on Chopin’s works. Arthur Hedley describes Chopin’s relationship with Poland and the Poles in the following way: “There are several reasons why, for lack of solid facts, writers on Chopin have had to draw on their imaginations, the most important being that Chopin was a Pole who revealed himself, as a man, to few save his compatriots; and until the Poles them selves began to take pride and interest in the achievements of their great countryman a considerable amount of information relating to his career (particularly his early days) remained hidden away in his native land to be brought to light only in recent years.”

Chopin's composing and piano playing

There are two important features of Chopin’s piano-playing style: rubato and classical basis. In term of rubato, Chopin played the main melody, usually the right-hand part, in a hesitant but very free manner. As a result, the melody tends to be slowed down a bit or accelerated. In other word, rubato means a feature of performance in which strict time is ‘robbed’ from some notes in order to give others the time to be played slowly. This style of playing has enhanced the expression of the particular melody. Despite Chopin’s supreme rubato and romantic style, classical basis was very important to Chopin. In this style, he would play in strict time with a menotrome on his piano and smoothly (legato).

Physically, his delicate hands would play the melody singing and touching with very flexible wrists. He also used sustaining pedal skillfully to enhance the singing tone as well as invoke the dramatic sense. Though Chopin was a piano virtuoso, he disliked playing at public concert as he was very sensitive to the crowds. Indeed, he preferred to play in small salons frequented by the nobility.

Generally, Chopin’s music was very influenced by his favourite composers, J.S.Bach and Mozart. This indicates that his works sound in tonality way. Chopin’s music is very highly imaginative and pianistic. His piano works are composed solely for the piano unlike the piano works by Beethoven or Clementi that could be transribed into other forms like orchestral work, chamber work etc. Chopin brought revolutionary to the piano music by taking inspiration from the singing human voice and transferred into most of his works. Other than the singing and poetic music, it sometimes contained dissonances and thick harmonic structure that produced a rich, powerful sonority. Therefore, it was Chopin who made the piano popular: a singing instrument; an instrument of infinite color and poetry; a heroic instrument; an intimate instrument.


Tags: | Poland | Chopin | Art | Music |


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