Portrait of Frédéric Chopin by Eugène Delacroix, oil on canvas, 1838. Public Domain
You may be wondering how can you take inspiration from the life of Frederic Chopin? In this article it will start out with how much of humble beginnings that he had and how he achieved notoriety within the classical community.
Frederic Chopin was born in Poland but when he was six months old, his family was uprooted to Warsaw to live in the Saxon Palace. His father was a tutor and his mother loved the piano and sang. One of his sisters loved playing the piano as well as young Frederic. For Frederic, his home was a symbol of peace.
Chopin learned to play the piano while in childhood. His older sister Ludwika helped him until he was about 6 years old and then he was taught by a private tutor. His tutor soon came to the realization that his pupil was very talented and helped teach him classical music styles from Bach and Mozart. Chopin’s father helped him compose some music which made him in the eyes of other famous musicians to be considered a child prodigy.
In 1818, the Pamiętnik Warszawski noted: ‘a true musical genius: not only does he play the most difficult pieces on the pianoforte, with the greatest ease and exceptional taste, but he is also the composer of several dances and variations, by which musical experts are constantly amazed.
As Chopin started to gain more and more popularity, he was asked by Warsaw aristocrats to give performances in their drawing rooms. Because of this opportunity, he was able to gain more strength in his skill. He quickly became more proficient in his skill. Chopin’s tutor told his parents that because of his amazing skill, he could no longer teach him anything further. It was then decided that Chopin would go to different tutors to master his skill.
During the next few years, Chopin was given more opportunities to learn and further advance his skills by playing different venues. He was sent to a private school to advance his education as well. His parents felt that he needed a good education too. He spent most of his vacations learning and playing the piano for his friends and family.
After he furthered his education, he was asked to become a teacher of musical arts. He made a decent living for himself this way and was able to live comfortably. He was considered one of the celebrities in Paris. He associated with other fellow celebrities such as Eugene Delacroix who made an excellent painting of Chopin. Chopin’s works from his first years in Paris include the Nocturnes of Opp. 9 and 15 (1830-32), the 12 Etudes, Op. 25 (1835-37), dedicated to Liszt’s mistress, the Comtesse Marie d’Agoult, the Scherzo in B-flat minor, Op. 31 (1837), the Sonata in B-flat minor, Op. 35 (1837), and the G minor Ballade, Op. 23.
Chopin’s artistry reached a new height when he was linked to Aurore Dudevant. Her pen name was George Sand. They had a 9 year tryst which inspired him to create some of his greatest masterpieces! During this time, he became ill with tuberculosis. Even though he was stricken with tuberculosis, that didn’t stop him from completing the 24 Preludes, Op. 28 1838-1839, which is considered one of his best masterpieces.
Chopin endured being ill and composed several beautiful compositions: the Ballades in A-flat, Op. 47, and F minor, Op. 52, the Mazurkas of Opp. 50, 56, 59, 63 and 67, the A-flat major Polonaise, Op. 53, the Nocturnes of Opp. 48, 55 and 62, and the Sonata in B minor, Op. 58 (1844). The three that are considered his best works are the B minor Sonata, the Op.55 and the Op. 56 due to their complexity and refinement. In the opening of the Sonata, one can see that Chopin is inspired by the intensity of his romance with George Sand and it flows beautifully in the Sonata.
Chopin was unique in his artistry because he was the first composer to devote himself only to the piano. Most of his work is solely on the piano or it is made to be in sync with other musical instruments. His musical works are shorter than most and not prepared in the usual way which make them even more unique than other works. The larger compositions that he re-invented was the Scherzo, and he composed many Ballad and Sonata. Talk about creating a masterpiece!
Shortly after the Sonata was composed, George Sand and Chopin ended their 9 year tryst. At this period of his life, Chopin was very ill but decided that he wanted to take some time off and go visit other parts of Europe. Once he was done visiting other parts of Europe, he eventually came back to Paris but was so ill with tuberculosis that he wanted to take life a little more easy. During the last year of his life, he hardly composed any music. He was very exhausted from being ill for so long. He passed away in October of 1849. Chopin is a well known and well loved pianist to this day.
So what can we take from Chopin’s life that will make what he did for the classical music community so inspirational? For one, he was very talented and practiced at a young age and was taught first by his sister. Second, he was taught by private tutors that gave him a great advantage to learning and honing in on his amazing piano skills. Third, he made music come to life from personal experiences even though he was very ill. This is a very creative way to make music taking it from personal experience. He is very creative, has a great drive and ambition in his chosen field and his musicality is beautiful. He is very inspirational to all those in the classical music community and for everyone out there.