Frederic Chopin is one of the most famous and influential composers from the nineteenth century. He is especially known for his piano music now and then. Chopin’s works include three sonatas, mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, etudes, impromptus, scherzos, ballades, preludes, two piano concertos, a few chamber music, and some Polish vocal pieces. He played an important role in the 19th century Polish nationalistic movement. In particular, his mazurkas and polonaises based on Polish dances best express his nationalistic passion and the musical features of the Polish culture.
During the nineteenth century, many new ideas emerged in politics, economy, science, society, ideology, arts and music. The Romantics valued exoticism and nationalism. Nationalism movements were the trend all over Europe, as people emphasized on more distinct cultural styles in music (individualism). Chopin was inspired by this idea and he introduced music that carried the uniqueness of Polish rhythm and melodies to other Europeans. This style in music was very influential.
Biography of Chopin
According to Chopin’s biographer Karasowki (1906), Frédéric François Chopin was born in Zelazowa Wola, a village west of Warsaw, Poland. According to the parish baptismal record, which was discovered in 1892, it gives his birthday as 22 February 1810, but March 1st 1810 was stated by the composer and his family as his birthday, according to Chopin in a letter of January 16th 1833 (Karasowski, 1906).
As a child, Chopin demonstrated the talent of a young Mozart. He started writing verse at age six and started composing music from age seven. His very first composition was a Polonaise in G Minor (1817). It was dedicated to the young Countess Victoire Skarbek (Weinstock, 1949, p. 319). Weinstock (1949) notes that the polonaise form had already been artistically treated before Chopin by “Prince Michel Oginski, the true founder of the polonaise, which became national through the tendency to penetrate into the domain of the heroic and tragic” (p. 323). As a pianist Chopin was mostly self-taught. He took some elementary lessons from Adalbert Zywny, a local Warsaw violinist. His chief formal studies were with Jozef Elsner of the Warsaw Conservatory, where he learned composition and theory for about three years (Niecks, 1973). At the conservatory, he was a young, passionate rising star of Poland. According to Nieck's biography (1973), “Chopin was slender of build, not above medium height, with delicately formed hands, long silky hair, intelligent brown eyes, and a curved aquiline nose, while the melancholy aspect of his face was often relieved by a sweet and gracious smile” (p. 39). Not only did he perform as a virtuoso, but he also began to explore “Polish folk music as a source of inspiration” for his music while he was in the conservatory (Finson, 2002, p. 116).
After Chopin completed his studies at the Warsaw Conservatory in 1829, he traveled around Europe and played concerts. He...