Chopin

Chopin Frederic Chopin is known to be one of the greatest composers of piano music of all time. He spent most of his life in Paris and was good friends with famous artists such as Ingres and Delacroix. His music is considered to be romantic in content, but very different from the romanticism of the time. In fact is said that he very much disliked the music under this classification, and he thought most of it was quite vulgar. (Schonberg) At age 16 Chopin was already very well known for his music, and at that time he was already enrolled in the Warsaw Conservatory of Music.

His teacher Joseph Elsner was said to have done a brilliant job preparing him for his life in composition and music. Elsner was able to see Chopins potential as a great musician and did nothing to impede his own personal progress, but at the same time he gave Chopin a solid background in harmony and composition. (Britannica) Chopins music is quite different from anything the world had ever seen. One thing that sets it apart is the fact that it received little or no criticism from anyone. It was universally considered to be the work of a master, and its content has never been called into question. His music has consistently received commendation from musicians and the general public a like which is very uncommon.

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Chopins work has given him the status of somewhat of and immortal in the sense that no one before or since has had such an ability to bring out the beauty of piano music. He has an uncanny ability to grab and hold the attention of the reader, and also a keen sense and understanding of the secret places inside the human soul. He uses this understanding to move people with beauty and power of his work. (Britanica) Very much unlike many other famous musicians, Chopin could not stand to preform in concerts and as a result it is said that he performed in less than thirty over the course of his entire life. Despite this lack of conformity to the expectations of Parisian life, he was able to maintain a very extravagant lifestyle through piano lessons. He commanded as much as thirty francs per lesson, which at the time was a very large amount money.

His reputation and ability allowed him to request these sums with no problem. As a result he was teaching only the richest members of Parisian society. (World Book Encyclopedia) Chopin was known to be a very likable man whose personality and tastes allowed him to be welcomed into the homes of the elite families of Paris. He was very conservative in his private life as well. He was not at all effeminate, and he lived a very modest life in terms of his lovers and affairs. There were a few women in his life, but the number was apparently quite low considering his stature and position in society.

He did have a long lasting affair with famous novelist woman who wrote under the pen name George Sand. She was described as short and dumpy, but his love for her was strong, and she helped nurse him through a a very hard fight with tuberculosis which later killed him. (Schonberg) In Schonbergs book The Lives of Great Composers, he states: Chopin had no false modesty about himself and his work. As early as 1831 he was writing about his perhaps too audacious but noble wish and intention to create for myself an new world. He did precisely that.

As a pianist he created a style that dominated the entire second half of the nineteenth century and was not substantially changed until until Debussy and Prokofiev came along. It was a style that broke sharply from everything that went before it. For the first time the piano became a total instrument: a singing instrument, and instrument of infinite color poetry, and nuance, a heroic instrument, and intimate instrument. Schumanns piano music, wonderful as it is, original as is, sounds thick by comparison. Chopins music flowered naturally out of his own way of playing the piano, as a pianist he was light years ahead of Schumann, exploiting the instrument in an idiomatic and completely modern manner.

In any case, the piano music of Schumann, exerted relatively influence in its day, whereas the new ideas about pedaling, fingering, rhythm, and coloristic resource that Chopin invented were immediately taken up by every one of the younger pianists. (Schonberg 171-172) This passage gives a nice summation of the importance of Chopins contributions to the music world. He was a man who knew his value, and did his best to educate the future musicians of the world. It is difficult to choose one of Chopins works as being his defining contribution because so many of them as great. All in all he is one of the greatest pianist to ever live.