October 22, 2010

Celebrating the Genius of Chopin

"Here is a young man who, taking nothing as a model, has found, if not a complete renewal of piano music, then in any case part of what has long been sought in vain, namely, an extravagance of original ideas that are unexampled anywhere.”

This is an excerpt from the Parisian Revue Musicale in 1831, expounding on the exceptional talent of Chopin, then 16.  Born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, in Żelazowa Wola, a village in the Duchy of Warsaw his love for music began at the age of six. He tried to reproduce the sounds he heard from listening to his mother play the piano as well as create new melodies of his own. His first piano lesson, oddly enough, did not come from his mother, but from his older sister Ludwika.  At the age of seven, “little Chopin” was already giving public concerts, and was often compared to Mozart. In that same year he composed two Polonaises in G minor and B flat major, works which rivalled the Polonaises of leading Warsaw composers. At eleven years of age, Chopin performed in the presence of Alexander I, Tsar of Russia.

Visit Polish Greatness to read more about Chopin and listen to several audio tracks online of some of his greatest works.  The music directory gives a selection of some of the best known Polish composers past and present.
In addition I have found several websites that would be of great interest to devotees of Chopin.

Chopin Foundation of the United States
It is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the support of young talented American musicians in their career development and to making classical music accessible to general public. 

Chopin Early Editions  The University of Chicago Library 
Digital Activities and Collections  (online catalogue of the complete works of Chopin with complete scans of scores.) 

Not to be missed is the jewel of a website called Info Chopin International Chopin Information Centre, which contains a list of all the places Chopin visited, and lived. The next time you visit Paris, think of visiting places such as 38, rue de la Chaussée d'Antin, the building where Chopin rented a two-bedroom apartment from September 1836 to September 1839. He performed many musical evenings there.  Pass by 16 rue Pigalle in Paris. This is where Chopin rented summer residences from George Sand and gave piano lessons and received scores of visiting celebrities of the time.  There are lists of memorial places, Chopin venues, libraries with Chopin collections, places named after Chopin and more.

And last but not least is the website called Chopin. It contains everything one would hope for and more. Articles such as the Origins of Chopin's output and Evolution of Style are sure to be of interest to Chopin aficionados as well links to Chopin exhibitions, events and organizations around the world, and so much more.

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