Monday, March 01, 2010

Today Is Frédéric Chopin's 200th Birthday

200 years ago today (or perhaps back on February 22 according to his certificate of baptism), Frédéric Chopin was born in the village of Żelazowa Wola. Leaving Poland forever at the age of 20, he would go on to become one of the most famous pianists and composers of the nineteenth century. Throughout the next few months, I'll be posting links to articles, events, and videos that feature the music of Chopin.

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Some interesting contemporary views of Chopin can be seen in the recent feature in the Independent that portrays him as a temperamental and complex man of many contradictions. A quote from his student Zofia Rosengardt:
"You cannot imagine a person who can be colder and more indifferent to everything around him," she wrote. "He is polite to excess, and yet there is so much irony, so much spite hidden inside it. Woe betide the person who allows himself to be taken in ... He is heavily endowed with wit and common sense, but then he often has wild, unpleasant moments when he is evil and angry, when he breaks chairs and stamps his feet. He can be as petulant as a spoiled child, bullying his pupils and being very cold with his friends. Those are usually days of suffering, physical exhaustion or quarrels with Madame Sand."
Rosengardt's picture of his character is not kind, but it is completely congruent with Chopin's music.

Krystian Zimerman playing Chopin's Fantaisie in F minor Op. 49:

1 comment:

  1. YAY for temperamental and complex! Looking forward to your information, insights and impressions.