WRTI's Essential Classical Composer No. 12: Frédéric Chopin

Jan 26, 2017

His melodies haunt you with their beauty, and his harmonies and delicate passagework for the piano still astonish us with their freshness. Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) wrote almost exclusively for the piano—preludes and ballades and mazurkas and nocturnes and concertos; Chopin is the pianist’s composer. He is so universally loved that you voted him our No. 12 most essential composer.

Gregg Whiteside Explains Why Frédéric Chopin Was One Of the Greatest Composers Who Ever Lived

Here are some interesting facts about him:

  • As French as he seems to be, he was born outside of Warsaw. And though he is a Polish national hero, he left his native land at age 20 and never returned. He made his career in Paris.
  • He was a child prodigy on the piano
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  • A pulmonary disease from a young age left him too weak to establish a career as a concert pianist. But the soft brilliance and colors of his playing became legendary in private concerts called “salons.”
  • Every composition of his is written for, or includes, the piano
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  • He said his two greatest musical influences were Bach and Mozart
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  • He made his living as a piano teacher; for Chopin, teaching was a calling.
  • On his deathbed he requested that all his unpublished music be destroyed. That didn’t happen
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Listen to Meridee Duddleston’s interview with pianist Chad Lawson and “the dreamiest Chopin you’ve ever heard”!