Frédéric Chopin – Prelude in E-Minor (op.28 no. 4)Posted: March 12, 2013
Played by: Aldona Dvarionaite
Fryderyk Chopin (Polish: Fryderyk [Franciszek] Chopin, sometimes Szopen; French: Frédéric [François] Chopin;March 1, 1810 — October 17, 1849) was a Polish virtuoso pianist and piano composer of the Romantic period. He is widely regarded as the greatest Polish composer, and one of the most influential composers for piano in the 19th century.
Chopin was a genius of universal appeal. His music conquers the most diverse audiences. When the first notes of Chopin sound through the concert hall there is a happy sigh of recognition. All over the world men and women know his music. They love it. They are moved by it. Yet it is not “Romantic music” in the Byronic sense. It does not tell stories or paint pictures. It is expressive and personal, but still a pure art. Even in this abstract atomic age, where emotion is not fashionable, Chopin endures. His music is the universal language of human communication. When I play Chopin I know I speak directly to the hearts of people!
Chopin’s music for the piano combined a unique rhythmic sense (particularly his use of rubato), frequent use of chromaticism, and counterpoint. This mixture produces a particularly fragile sound in the melody and the harmony, which are nonetheless underpinned by solid and interesting harmonic techniques. He took the new salon genre of the nocturne, invented by Irish composer John Field, to a deeper level of sophistication. Three of his twenty-one nocturnes were only published after his death in 1849, contrary to his wishes.He also endowed popular dance forms, such as the Polish mazurka and the waltz, Viennese Waltz, with a greater range of melody and expression. Chopin was the first to write ballades and scherzi as individual pieces. Chopin also took the example of Bach’s preludes and fugues, transforming the genre in his own preludes.
Chopin was born in the village of Żelazowa Wola, in the Duchy of Warsaw, to a Polish mother and French-expatriate father and came to be regarded as a child-prodigy pianist. In November 1830, at the age of twenty, Chopin went abroad. After the suppression of the Polish 1830–31 Uprising, he became one of the many expatriates of the Polish Great Emigration. In Paris he made a comfortable living as composer and piano teacher, while giving few public performances. A great Polish patriot, in France he used the French version of his given name and, to avoid having to rely on Imperial Russian documents, eventually became a French citizen.After some ill-fated romantic involvements with Polish ladies, from 1837 to 1847 he conducted a turbulent relationship with the French writer George Sand (Aurore Dudevant). Always in frail health, at 39 in Paris he succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis.
Chopin’s extant compositions all include the piano, predominantly alone or as a solo instrument among others. Though his music is technically demanding, its style emphasizes nuance and expressive depth rather than technical virtuosity. Chopin invented new musical forms such as the ballade,and made major innovations to existing forms such as the piano sonata, waltz, nocturne, étude, impromptu, and prelude. His works are mainstays of Romanticism in 19th-century classical music. His mazurkas and polonaises remain the cornerstone of Polish national classical music.