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Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Welcome back, friends of music!
We will continue our course with Frederic Chopin. Please continue to visit me here in the month of October for all things Chopin.

We will begin with a simple biography:

The Story of the Boy who Made Beautiful Melodies

As long as we live and keep in touch with the works of the great composers we shall love more and more the music of Frederic Fran├žois Chopin. It will be pleasant to learn from time to time something about him. We should like, for example, to know:

In what country he was born.

In what places he lived.

What kinds of music he composed.

Perhaps we may begin by learning that he was born in a little village in Poland not far from the City of Warsaw, beside which flows the famous river Vistula. Here is a picture of the house in which Chopin was born.

Chopin's father, a Frenchman by birth, was a schoolmaster. (So was the father of Franz Schubert, you remember.) The boy's mother was a native of Poland. From the time when he was a little boy, the future great composer loved his mother's country and the people just as much as he loved the dear mother herself.

The father knew that his little son was musical, so he took the greatest care to have him taught by the best teachers. He watched over him quite as Leopold Mozart watched the progress of Wolferl; and as Mendelssohn's mother guided Felix and Fanny in their first music lessons.

Mendelssohn and Chopin were indeed very nearly the same age. Mendelssohn was born in February, 1809, and Chopin was born the first of March in the same year. Let us keep their names together in our memory for the future.

Mendelssohn died two years before the death of Chopin. Both of these great composers kept busily at their work until the last year of their lives although neither of them was very strong.

Here is a picture of little Chopin playing for a group of boyhood friends.

Chopin was only nine years old when he first played in public. It is said that he created quite a sensation. But like all those who know that talent is something to be worked for, he did not stop studying just because his playing was pleasing to other people. In fact, it was just on that account that he began to work all the harder.

Then there came a great change. He left his home and went to Paris, where he lived for the rest of his life. Even though he was but a youth of twenty-one, he had already composed two concertos for the piano. These he had played in public to the great delight of all who heard him, but especially of his countrymen.

You see, Chopin's going to Paris was a strange journey. The boy was leaving his mother's country and going to the land of his father. Like Joseph Haydn, who went away at the age of six, Chopin never lived at home again.

But he did not reach Paris a stranger. The world of music had heard of him and some of its great ones welcomed his coming.

Part 2 tomorrow!

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