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Fryderyk Chopin

Biography

Polish composer and pianist Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin (1810–49) created one of the most important bodies of music in the piano repertory. His music combines a gift for melody and an innovative approach to structure with a brilliant piano technique. His works have frequently inspired choreographers, including Jerome Robbins, Michel Fokine, Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan.

Chopin was born in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw. When he was still a baby his family moved to the Lyceum in Warsaw, where his father was a tutor. He was a gifted prodigy, a published composer by 1818. He studied piano, organ and composition at the Warsaw High School of Music 1826–9, and in this time developed his own idiosyncratic technique. He moved to Vienna in 1830 and to Paris in 1831, where by the end of 1832 he was established as one of the most desirable teachers and private performers. In the following years in Paris he developed his remarkably individualistic style, redefining genres such as the polonaise, the mazurka, the nocturne and the ballade. He fell in love with the writer George Sand in 1838 and spent the next nine years with her, spending summers composing in her country house Nohant and winters teaching in Paris. After the February 1848 revolution Chopin moved to London and visited Scotland, before returning to Paris a few months before his death in autumn 1849.

Chopin was recognized in his time as one of the most radical musical minds since Beethoven, a legacy confirmed by his extraordinary works.