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More about Frédéric Chopin
Often considered to be Poland's greatest ever composer, Frédéric François Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Szopen on March 1, 1810, in the small village of Zelazowa Wola, Duchy of Warsaw (now Poland). His mother introduced him to the piano at an early age, and he gave his first public performance at just eight years old on February 24, 1818. His debut was an unmitigated success, the Warsaw press began to refer to the young Chopin as the “Polish Mozart”. In September 1835 at the age of 21, Chopin obtained French citizenship and become one of the many expatriates of the Polish Great Emigration. During his time in Paris, he became acquainted with a number of his contemporaries, including Franz Liszt, and soon became well-known for his delicate and intricate playing style. He would remain in Paris for the last eighteen years of his life, amassing a large following, but seldom performing publicly, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. Chopin’s output as a composer decreased rapidly throughout the latter years of his life, as a result of a debilitating illness. He made his last public appearance at London's Guildhall during his tour of England and Scotland on 16 November 1848, performing for the benefit of Polish refugees in recognition of Polish heritage. By this time he was seriously ill, weighing as little as 99 pounds, and he died less than a year later on October 17, 1849 at just 39 years of age.
As a pianist and composer, Chopin’s talents were beyond emulation: he has contributed many significant works to the piano's repertoire and his innovations in playing style, harmony, and musical form, were extremely influential throughout Romantic period and thereafter. He uniquely devoted himself to the piano, and is particularly noted for taking the new salon genre of the nocturne, established by John Field, to a far more discerning level of sophistication. He was also the first to write ballades and scherzi as individual concert pieces, and made advancements to many other musical forms including mazurkas, polonaises, études and impromptus. His musical superstardom and early death made him one of the leading figures in the romantic era.
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