Essay, Research Paper: Chopin


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Portrait of Chopin by Eugène Delacroix (1838) In this bibliography, I will
discuss Chopin, his life span and nationality, and the historical period of his
performance. I will address his types of major works and titles and discuss his
major contributions to music. Additionally, I will touch upon his early works,
his dedications and his teachings. Frédéric François Chopin, (1810-1849),
Polish composer and pianist of the romantic era, regarded by some as the
greatest of all composers of music for the piano. Born Fryderyk Chopin in
Zelazowa Wola, near Warsaw. His father was French and his mother was Polish. He
preferred to use the French name Frédéric. He began to study the piano at the
age of four, and he played at a private concert in Warsaw when he was eight
years old. Later he studied harmony and counterpoint at the Warsaw Conservatory.
Chopin was also advanced as a composer: His first published composition is dated
1817. He gave his first concerts as a piano virtuoso in 1829 in Vienna, where he
lived for the next two years. After 1831, except for brief absences, Chopin
lived in Paris, where he became noted as a pianist, teacher, and composer. He
formed an intimate relationship in 1837 with French writer George Sand. In 1838
Chopin began to suffer from tuberculosis and Sand nursed him in Mallorca, in the
Balearic Islands, and in France until continued differences between the two
resulted in an estrangement in 1847. Thereafter his musical activity was limited
to giving several concerts in 1848 in France, Scotland, and England. The 1830s
have been called "the decade of the piano" because the piano and the
music written for it played a dominant role in European musical culture. As the
Industrial Revolution hit, piano manufacturers developed methods for building
many more pianos at lower cost. Pianos ceased to be the exclusively for the
wealthy. Middle class could also own them and make music at home. Thousands of
amateur pianists began to take lessons, buy printed music, and attend concerts.
Chopin's piano playing was highly regarded by other virtuosos and was in great
demand from professional and amateur musicians alike. Unlike the other
composer-pianists of his time, Chopin rarely gave public concerts; his
performing was generally confined to the homes of wealthy aristocrats and
businessmen. Public awareness of Chopin's music came about primarily through its
publication, and the process of putting his works into print. However, this was
not simply a matter of converting his manuscripts into printed form. Chopin felt
that many performance details, such as phrasing, dynamics, pedaling, and
articulation, were not fixed elements of his music, even though they have a
substantial impact on the way it sounds. He was inconsistent about including
performing instructions in his manuscripts, and when publishers asked him to
supply them at the proof stage, he often changed his mind several times. Nearly
all of Chopin's compositions were for piano. Although a refugee, he was deeply
loyal to his war-torn homeland, his mazurkas reflect the rhythms and melodic
traits of Polish folk music, and his polonaises contain a heroic spirit. Italian
opera composer Vincenzo Bellini also influenced his melodies. His ballads,
scherzos, and études exemplify his large-scale works for solo piano. His music,
which is romantic and lyrical in nature, is characterized by great originality
of melody, refined and often adventurous harmony, subtle rhythm, and poetic
beauty. Chopin greatly influenced other composers, such as the Hungarian pianist
and composer Franz Liszt, German composer Richard Wagner, and French composer
Claude Debussy. Chopin's many published compositions include 55 mazurkas, 27 études,
24 preludes, 19 nocturnes, 13 polonaises, and 3 piano sonatas. Among his other
works are the Concertos in E minor and in F minor, both for piano and orchestra,
the cello sonata, and 17 songs. Among Chopin's most individual works are the Préludes.
Intended to serve as beginnings to an intimate recital, these pieces range from
tender melancholy to the dramatic of the stormy Prelude in D minor. Many of
Chopin's most beautiful compositions come from the series of short, reflective
pieces he called Nocturnes. As can be heard in the Nocturne in F-sharp, these
works are usually gentle and dreamlike with a flowing, rocking bass, and aptly
demonstrate Chopin's preconception for sweet, song-like melodies, very much in
the style of Italian bel canto opera of the period. The publication of Chopin's
early works. Chopin first achieved fame as a child prodigy in his native Poland,
and a few of his works were published in Warsaw as early as 1817, when he was
only eight years old. He continued to compose throughout his student years, but
only a handful of these works were printed. Polish editions were not widely
distributed and are now quite rare. When Chopin attained prominence in Paris
during the early 1830s, he allowed a few of his early works (the Rondos, opp. 1
and 5) to be reissued by French, German, and English publishers, but he made no
further effort to revive the other music he had composed before 1828. These
works stayed in manuscript until after his death and have been trickling into
print from widely scattered sources ever since. Chopin's Dedications Like other
young composers, Chopin dedicated his early Parisian publications to well-known
composer-pianists or well-to-do patrons of the arts who were in a position to
provide recommendations, commissions, or employment opportunities. More
generally, by associating himself with famous musicians and wealthy lovers of
music, Chopin enhanced public estimation of his own music. Publishers recognized
the value of these associations for their sales and prominently displayed the
names of dedicatees on title pages. After Chopin became famous, however, most of
his dedications were to personal friends. Many of these were still members of
high society, since that was the circle in which Chopin moved, but there is
little to suggest that he felt the need to court favor. In many cases, he seems
to have been very casual about selecting dedicatees, often making up his mind or
changing it at the last minute. Chopin dedicated a significant number of works
to his students, ranging from aristocratic ladies to professional pianists like
Friedericke Müller. It is curious that Chopin did not dedicate published works
to either of the two known loves of his life, Maria Wodzinska (1819-1896) and
George Sand (1804-1876). Chopin had known the Wodzinski family since childhood
and fell in love with Maria in 1835, when she was sixteen. He proposed, but her
family did not approve, probably because of his chronic ill health. He inscribed
a manuscript of the Waltz, op. 69, no. 1 to Maria during their courtship, but
the work was not published during his lifetime. In later years he did not
hesitate to dedicate copies of it to other ladies. Chopin lived with novelist
George Sand for nine years (1838-1847) and their relationship was common
knowledge among members of Paris society, but Chopin may have felt that a public
dedication stretched the bounds of propriety. Chopin's teaching Chopin took his
piano teaching very seriously. In the early 1840s, he even sketched the
beginnings of a method for playing the instrument, but this project was never
completed. Chopin taught music written by a variety of composers, of whom Johann
Sebastian Bach was particularly prominent. His students cherished the
opportunity to study the master's own works with him. During lessons, he and his
students frequently wrote instructions concerning performance in the students'
printed copies of his music. Most of these were fingerings, with occasional
details of dynamics, articulation, and phrasing. The markings were primarily
educational and tailored to the needs of individual students. From time to time,
however, Chopin also altered pitches, redistributed chords, and even completely
rewrote ornamental passagework, changes that are not found in any other early
sources. Controversy continues over whether these annotations reflect Chopin's
final revisions of his music or spur-of-the-moment changes that were never
intended to have any permanent validity. Chopin was certainly considered one of
the great pianists/composers of our time. He has contributed much to the music
world. He was nominated the "Composer of the Year" by the Morrison
Foundation for Music Research, Inc. in 1999, the 50th anniversary of his death.
References: "Chopin, Frederic Francois, "Microsoft Encarta Online
Encyclopedia 2000 Chopin, Frederick, Chicago University
Library, Music Exhibit Chopin, Princeton
University Chopin, Composer of the Year, 1999 The Morrison Foundation's - Composer of the
Year (1849-1999)

BibliographyReferences: "Chopin, Frederic Francois, "Microsoft Encarta Online
Encyclopedia 2000 Chopin, Frederick, Chicago University
Library, Music Exhibit Chopin, Princeton
University Chopin, Composer of the Year, 1999 The Morrison Foundation's - Composer of the
Year (1849-1999)
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