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PERFORMANCES SCHEDULE

CARNEGIE CLASSICS SERIES

Saturday, May 17, 2025

CHOPIN, THE BEAUTIFUL!

WITH PIANIST BARBARA NISSMAN & WV MUSIC FRIENDS

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Frédéric François Chopin (1810 – 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic period, who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation".

Chopin was born in Żelazowa Wola and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising. At 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his musical contemporaries, including Robert Schumann. After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often troubled relationship with the French writer Aurore Dupin (known by her pen name George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to Mallorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling. For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39.

All of Chopin's compositions feature the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, some chamber music, and 19 songs set to Polish lyrics. His piano pieces are technically demanding and expanded the limits of the instrument; his own performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity. Chopin's major piano works include mazurkaswaltzesnocturnespolonaises, the instrumental ballade (which Chopin created as an instrumental genre), étudesimpromptusscherzipreludes, and sonatas, some published only posthumously. Among the influences on his style of composition were Polish folk music, the classical tradition of Mozart and Schubert, and the atmosphere of the Paris salons, of which he was a frequent guest. His innovations in style, harmony, and musical form, and his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout and after the late Romantic period.

Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest celebrities, his indirect association with political insurrection, his high-profile love life, and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying historical fidelity. Among his many memorials is the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, which was created by the Parliament of Poland to research and promote his life and works. It hosts the International Chopin Piano Competition, a prestigious competition devoted entirely to his works.

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