On This Day… October 17

Today we look at one of the largest figures in the world of Romantic Piano. One of the greatest Polish composers, Frederic Chopin, died on this day in 1849.

Chopin was born in the village of Zelazowa Woza, in the Duchy of Warsaw, and early in life was regarded as a child prodigy. After moving to Paris, Chopin made a comfortable living as a composer and piano teacher. He was to become a French citizen, though still an ardent Polish patriot, and eventually died in Paris, succumbing to the “ultimate romantic illness”, pulmonary tuberculosis in 1849.

Chopin, according to Arthur Hedley, “had a rare gift of a very personal melody, expressive of heart-felt emotion, and his music is penetrated by a poetic feeling that has an almost universal appeal.” Though not as prolific as other composers of his time – he has only 80 opuses, and they all involve the piano – his unique style makes his music different from any other composer of his era.

For our viewing pleasure, we have three of the greatest pianists. Horowitz plays Chopin’s Ballad number 1, Richter plays Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude, and Rachmaninov plays Chopin Nocturne Op. 9, no. 2.

Did you enjoy these performances? What’s your favourite Chopin piece? Let me know in the comments, or write your own blog post linking back here and I’ll add a link below.

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