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Lyricism of Chopin

Chapter 9:

Born on Warsaw, Poland, in 1810

He was first mentioned in the Warsaw review of January 1818


a real musical genius If this boy had been born in Germany or France, his fame would probably by now have spread to all nations.

His major teachers were Adalbert Zywny and Josef Elsner.

Chopin wrote his first Opus, Rondo in C minor, in 1825

Two years later, he wrote Op. 2, the Variations in B Flat Major for piano and orchestra on the duet L ci darem la mano from Mozarts Don Giovanni

Also in 1827, his sister Emilia dies of tuberculosis.

In 1828, Paganini plays in Warsaw.

Chopin presented two concerts in Vienna in 1829, where he was welcomed as a true artist
his touch, although neat and sure, has little of that brilliance by which our virtuosos announce themselves as such in the first bars; he emphasized but little, like one conversing in a company of clever people Wiener Theaterzeitung, Aug 1829

He had an incredible control of an infinite number of subtle rhythmic and dynamic shadings, but his music had a stronger appeal for the selective audience than for the general public.

Chopin moves to Vienna in November 1830. Weeks later, the Warsaw uprising (or Cadet Revolution) against Russia broke out.

Vienna was more sympathetic with the Russians and their musical tendencies were towards Strauss.

Chopin moves to Paris in 1831

He met the greatest musicians there such as Par, Rossini, Kalkbrenner, Mendelssohn, Liszt, etc. as well as other artists: Hugo, Balzac, and Delacroix.

He came to dislike public performance intensely. The public frightened him.

His debut in Paris included:


F minor Concerto Variations, Op. 2 Instrumental and vocal selections Kalkbrenners Grand Polonaise

The endlessly renewed applause did not seem sufficiently to express our enchantment at the demonstration of this talent, which disclosed a new level in the expression of poetic feeling and such felicitous innovations in artistic form. Liszt

In 1835 he met Maria Wodzinska, daughter of a familys friend.

They got secretly engaged to Maria during a visit of Chopin in Marienbad, in the summer of 1836

On his return to Paris, he was suddenly rejected, setting Chopin in a crucial and agonizing time.

1837, England

The animation of his style is so subdued, its tenderness so refined, its melancholy so gentle, its niceties, so studied and systematic, the tout-ensemble so perfect, and evidently the result of an accurate judgment and most finished taste Musical World review

According to Mendelssohn:
Chopin was the perfect virtuoso His technical dexterity was complete Highest level of physical coordination and freedom Smooth and even touch, perfectly articulated with elegance His control over the most subtle shades of dynamics probably has never been surpassed.

As a teacher:
He strongly advocated studying both singing and Italian opera. One of his main objectives was to remove all stiffness of the pupil. Suppleness is needed to acquire a beautiful style of playing He treated very completely the different kinds of touch. He didnt begin with the key of C, it was not a natural position of the hand. He frequently used Clementis Preludes and Exercises and Gradus ad Parnassum, Cramers Etudes, J.S. Bach suites and fugues.

Contributions to technique:
His concept of rubato
Look at these trees! The wind plays in the leaves, stirs up life among them, the tree remains the same, that is Chopinesque rubato Liszt

A style that demands the greatest control of dynamics shading

Radical changes in fingering and pedaling techniques of that time


(thumb on black keys, 5-1 crossings, crossing between the longer fingers with no thumb)