Closed up in his own inaccessible world, the man who transformed the pianoforte into the "prince" of instruments would, as events turned out, be a melancholic and tormented exile for the whole of his brief existence. In Vienna, the first distant halting place in his journey from his native land, Chopin lived a changing life of moments of bewilderment, short lasting enthusiasms, and strange obsessions. He was unable to enter the hearts of the Viennese, a people used to Mozart, Haydn and Schubert his style of playing was too distant from the more aggressive and surface virtuosity of the other pianists of the time. He continued on his journey which was directed towards London but halted when he was in Paris. What was to have been merely a resting place on his travels subsequently became the chosen city of his brief existence. This young Pole suddenly became the vogue musician of the Paris salons. His graceful and delicate sonority and his syle of playing became the new point of departure in ideal terms and a model for many other pianists. "His hands are made of velvet" declared Georg Sand, the strong willed female writer who would come to have a major influence on Chopin the composer. The ten years that they lived together constituted the period when the musical language of Chopin matured and they also constituted the most important and fertile time span in terms of his creativity. A number of masterpieces emerged during this period the Ballades op. 38, the Polonaises op. 40, the Scherzo op. 39, the completion of Sonata op. 35, of the twenty four Preludes op. 28, and the Sonata for violoncello and pianoforte op. 65. His whole life long Chopin was intimately linked to his native land. He dwelt upon its folklore in the polanaises and the mazurkas. His polanaises are the soul of Poland as felt by a Pole. In the mazurkas he enobles the melody of this Slav dance, which was born in Mazovia, and translates it into a form well suited to the sophisticated tastes of the salons of Warsaw high society. In the waltzes, which form a part, however, of Austrian folklore, he unveils the imaginative expression of this dance form. Chopin's vast production includes the Nocturnes and the Preludes and these latter, because of the great variety of their technical and expressive component elements, are perhaps the most difficult parts of the Chopin corpus which the pianist has to face up to. Chopin's last months of his life were sad. His health, which had always been precarious, made it very difficult, if not impossible, for him to earn a living from giving private lessons. He died in poverty at the age of only thirty nine. His funeral was held in the Church de la Madelaine and was a triumph in terms of popular participation over three thousand people were present. His body was buried in the cemetery of Père Lachaise and his heart was taken to Warsaw where it would be conserved in the Church of the Holy Cross the church which he had attended during his youth.
1810: (22 February) born in Zelazowa Wola (Warsaw) to Nicolas, a tutor in the household of the aristocratic Skarbek family and to Justyna Tekla Krzyzanowska, a lady in waiting in the same household.
1816: Studies piano and composition with Wojciek Zywny, a violinist and pianist from Bohemia.
1817: Composes his first polonaise in G major, a piece which was written down for him by his teacher.
1818: His first concert held in public. A large number of recitals in the salons of the Warsaw aristocracy.
1822: He is placed in the hands of the Silesian teacher Jozef Elsner, an important musician of the epoch.
1826: (Autumn) Chopin enrolls at the Higher School of Music.
1830: Achieves an extraordinary success with his "Concerto in C major for pianoforte and orchestra" which was performed at the National Theatre on 17 and 28 March. (2 November) Chopin leaves Warsaw (a city he would never see again), receiving as he left the farewells of his closest friends and of Jozef Elsner. He stays for a while in Breslavia, Dresden and Prague before reaching Vienna on 24 November. He finishes his "introduction et polonaise brillante in C major for pianoforte and violoncello, op. 3)".
1831: After staying in Linz, Salzburg and Munich he moves to Stuttgart. He passes through a period of very deep depression whose details are narrated in his famous "Stuttgart Diary". (The last days of September) Chopin is in Paris where Dr.Malfatti (one of Beethoven's doctors) suggests his name to Ferdinando Paer, Concert Director to the King, the musical figure who subsequently paved the way for Chopin's successes in the Paris salons. (December) Schuman declares that Chopin is a "musical genius" in a piece written for the Allgemaine Musik Zeitung.
1832: Chopin meets Countess Delfina Potacha, another figure who helped to introduce him into Paris high society, and indeed it was to this aristocratic lady that Chopin was to dedicate his "concerto in F major". He gives very highly paid private music lessons. Together with Auguste Franchomme he composes "grand duo concertant in E major on themes from Robert le Diable" for violoncello and pianoforte.
1836: (5 November 13 November) Liszt introduces him to the writer Georg Sand. He meets Mendelssohn, Rossini, Berlioz and other leading figures of Parisian cultural life.
1838: (June) The love affair between Chopin and Georg Sand begins. Ten years of great creativity also begin.
1848: (16 February) Chopin holds his last Paris recital in the Sala Pleyel. (20 April) Jane Stirling, one of Chopin's pupils, invites him to Great Britain where over a period of seven months he gives ten recitals: in London (23 June and 7 July), in Manchester (28 August), in Glasgow (27 September), in Edinburgh (4 October) and in London again in November. His health gets worse and he returns to Paris.
1849: (17 October) Chopin dies at the age of thirty nine, in his home at 12 Place Vendome, of heart disease. He had been suffering from tuberculosis.
© P&P - Promozione e Produzione, Rome.