Our privacy policy was last updated on Friday 31 January 2020View it hereDismiss
Sign in
Bachtrack logo
Home
What's on
Reviews
Articles
Video
Site
EventsReviewsArticlesVideo
Flag of Poland

Composer: Chopin, Fryderyk Franciszek (1810-1849)

Find classical music concert, opera, ballet and dance listings | Chopin
October 2020
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
28293001020304
05060708091011
12131415161718
19202122232425
26272829303101
02030405060708
Evening performance
Matinee performance
Upcoming eventsSee more...

StockholmGrigory Sokolov recital

© Mary Slepkova/DG
Schumann, Chopin
Grigory Sokolov, Piano

PragueCamille Thomas and Lukáš Klánský

Czech Philharmonic
Mendelssohn, Brahms, Chopin, Messiaen, Franck
Camille Thomas; Lukáš Klánský

LondonKhatia Buniatishvili in recital

Barbican
Bach, Liszt, Brahms, Chopin, Prokofiev
Khatia Buniatishvili, Piano

StockholmIngrid Fliter recital

Stockholms Konserthusstiftelse
Chopin
Ingrid Fliter, Piano

LondonEvgeny Kissin in recital

Barbican
Chopin, Berg, Khrennikov, Gershwin
Evgeny Kissin, Piano
Latest reviewsSee more...

PNB proves ballet is for the stage and the screen

Leta Biasucci in Emeralds © Angela Sterling
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Rep 1 delivers a magnificent first installment of their 2020-2021 virtual season.
****1
Read more

Musicians and dancers unite for Ravenna’s reimagined dance event

Hugo Marchand © Zani-Casadio
Beatrice Rana and Mario Brunello provide live music for seven internationally renowned dancers, including Paris Opéra Ballet’s Hugo Marchand and Spanish flamenco whizz Sergio Bernal, at the 15th-century Rocca Brancaleone.
****1
Read more

Mercurial Martha: Argerich back in the solo spotlight

Renaud Capuçon and Martha Argerich © Symphoniker Hamburg
Martha Argerich hadn't played Chopin's Third Piano Sonata in public for at least 25 years... so this performance at the Laeiszhalle Hamburg came as a huge surprise.
*****
Read more

Final Edition for the Richard Alston Dance Company

Elly Braund and Nicholas Shikkis in Voices and Light Footsteps © Chris Nash
The final full stop for a much-loved company
****1
Read more

Gerstein emphasizes the importance of flexible minds, not only fingers

Kirill Gerstein at Zankel Hall © Fadi Kheir
In his Zankel Hall recital, Gerstein underlined with purposeful clarity the fecundating power of just a few thematic ideas.
****1
Read more
Biography

Delicate, refined, passionate, emotive, romantic. Many music lovers consider Chopin's piano works to be the very greatest of all music written for the instrument. It's certainly distinctive: you can listen to an awful lot of music from the same period and be in no doubt whatsoever when you hear Chopin. 

A large part of the effect comes from Chopin's talent for melody. In every generation, just a few composers have the talent for writing tune after tune that sticks in your memory as soon as you've heard it, and Chopin was certainly one of them. But what makes him special is his ability to wrap intricate tracery around his melodies and to surprise you repeatedly with shifts of key and rhythm while always putting across a feeling that every note is in the right place. Perhaps the best descriptions come from the Paris Revue Musicale, which described the 22-year old Chopin as a young man who had found “an extravagance of original ideas that are unexampled anywhere” and from Robert Schumann, who found in his music the sound of “cannon concealed amid blossoms”.

Chopin was a less versatile composer than most of the greats with whom he is frequently and fairly bracketed. There is a handful of chamber pieces and orchestral works and a few songs, none of them massively distinguished. Through and through, Chopin was a salon composer: he wrote piano music to be played in the living rooms of the rich. And within that compass, he was matchless.

Part of Chopin's unique sound comes from a unique background. Born Fryderyk Franciszek to a Frenchman settled in Poland, he became an ardent Polish nationalist Polishness and is treated as one of the great men of Polish history. By the time he was eleven, the young Chopin was already acclaimed as a great pianist and had played for the Tsar of Russia at the opening of the Polish parliament; at twenty, he set off to make his fortune in Western Europe. Just 27 days after he left, the Poles rebelled against the rule of Russia in the November uprising, a rebellion which was crushed the following year, leaving Chopin distraught and providing the creative impulse for one of his most famous works, the “Revolutionary” Etude (Op.10 no.12). He suffered from ill health throughout his life.

Chopin settled in Paris, where he became “Frédéric-François”, the name by which he is best known in English-speaking countries today, although he never learnt French perfectly. He enjoyed great concert success, but became aware that his style of playing was not suited to larger concert halls, preferring to play at his home or in salons, often on his much beloved Pleyel pianos.

In 1848, Chopin’s life was transformed by revolution once again, as the French nobility who formed his clientèle fled Paris, leaving him without income and in sharply deteriorated health. His last concert was in London in November that year: an ill-fated benefit concert for Polish refugees (no-one knows what was played since he could not be heard above the chatter of the social occasion). He died a year later in Paris, with his sister Ludwika, who had given him his first piano lessons, at his bedside.

Every lover of Chopin has their own favourite works and their own favourite performers: his music seems to lend itself to an extraordinary variety of performance styles, with endless argument possible about tempos, rubato, accenting and many other features of a performance.

Famous interpreters of the past include Artur Rubinstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Claudio Arrau and my personal favourite, the Romanian Dinu Lipatti. A “must have” play-list would include the Etudes, the Waltzes, the Preludes, the Ballades (a form that Chopin invented), and several of the Polonaises and Mazurkas. Also unforgettable are the Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, Op. posth. 66, the Barcarolle in F sharp (a transcendent, lilting Venetian boating song) and the B flat minor Piano Sonata with its famous funeral march whose glorious gift is to uplift one’s spirits in the face of death.

David Karlin
18th December 2009

List of works
12 Etudes, Op.102 Nocturnes, Op.2724 Preludes, Op.283 Mazurkas, Op.593 Mazurkas, Op.63A Month in the CountryAndante spianato et Grande Polonaise brillante, Op.22Ballade no. 1 in G minor, Op.23Ballade no. 3 in A flat major, Op.47Ballade no. 4 in F minor, Op.52Barcarolle in F sharp major, Op.60Berceuse in D flat major, Op.57Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.65Fantaisie in F minor, Op.49Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, Op.66Impromptu in A flat major, Op.29Impromptu in F sharp major, Op.36Impromptu in G flat major, Op.51Introduction and Polonaise brillante in C major for cello and piano, Op.3La Dame aux caméliasMazurka in A flat major, Op.50 no.2Mazurka in A minor, Op.59 no.1Mazurka in A minor, Op.7 no.2Mazurka in B flat minor, Op.24 no.4Mazurka in C minor, Op.56 no.3Mazurka in C sharp minor, Op.63 no.3Mazurka in F minor, Op.63 no.2Nocturne in C sharp minor, "Lento Con Gran Espressione", Op. posth, B 49Nocturne no. 1 in B flat minor, Op.9 no.1Nocturne no. 17 in B major, Op.62 no.1Nocturne no. 19 in E minor, Op.72 no.1Nocturne no. 2 in E flat major, Op.9 no.2Nocturne no. 20 en do dièse mineur, Op. posthumeNocturne no. 3 in B major, Op.9 no.3Nocturne no. 8 in D flat major, Op.27 no.2Nocturnes, Op.9Piano Concerto no. 1 in E minor, Op.11Piano Concerto no. 2 in F minor, Op.21Piano Sonata no. 2 in B flat minor 'Funeral March', Op.35Piano Sonata no. 3 in B minor, Op.58Polonaise no. 1 in C sharp minor, Op.26 no.1Polonaise no. 5 in F sharp minor, Op.44Polonaise no. 6 in A flat major, "Heroic," Op.53Polonaise no. 7 in A flat major "Polonaise-fantaisie", Op.61Prelude in E minor, Op.28 no.4PreludesRondo in E flat major, Op.16Scherzo no. 1 in B minor, Op.20Scherzo no. 2 in B flat minor, Op.31Scherzo no. 3 in C sharp minor, Op.39Scherzo no. 4 in E major, Op.54Waltz in A Minor "Grande Valse Brillante", Op.34 no.2Waltz no. 10 in B minor, Op.69 no.2Waltz no. 6 in D flat major "Minute Waltz", Op.64 no.1Waltz no. 7 in C sharp minor, Op.64 no.2Waltz no. 9 in A flat major "L'Adieu", Op.69 no.1