Fryderyk Chopin (Frédéric Chopin)
Photograph of Fryderyk Chopin taken by Louis-Auguste Bisson (1849). Source: National Library Digital Database, www.polona.pl
Major Polish composer. Born in Żelazowa Wola on the 1/03/1810, died on the 17/10/1849 in Paris.
Timeline of Chopin's life and major works
Fryderyk (Frédéric) Chopin was born on the 1st of March, 1810, although some historians quote the 22nd of February as his birthdate. He was born in Żelazowa Wola in central Poland to a French-Polish couple. His father, Nicholas, was a Frenchman who came to Poland from Lorraine in 1878. Nicholas Chopin arrived in Poland with Jan Adam Weydlich, the manager of the property of Count Michal Pac at Marainville, the village where Nicolas lived. Fryderyk's mother, Justyna nee Krzyżanowska, was a relative of Countess Ludwika Skarbkowa, owner of the Żelazowa Wola manor. The Chopins settled down in the manor's outhouse, Mikolaj being appointed tutor of the Count's sons. Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin was christened in St Roch's Church in the nearby Brochow on the 23rd of April.
On the1st of October Nicholas Chopin begins teaching at a Warsaw Lycee and the Chopin family moves to Warsaw.
Having practised the piano with his mother, Fryderyk now starts to take lessons with Wojciech Żywny.
Composes his first works, Polonaise in B flat major (his father writes the score down) and Polonaise in G minor. The latter gets published by the printing shop of the Visitation of Our Lady Church parish in the New Town district of Warsaw.
Makes his first public appearance, playing Piano Concerto in G minor by the Czech composer Adalbert Gyrowetz at a charity concert.
Stops taking lessons with Wojciech Żywny and starts learning composition with Józef Elsner and the organ with Wilhelm Wuerfl.
Spends summer holidays at the manor of his schoolmate's family in Szafarnia, a tradional Mazovian village. Gets acquainted with Mazovian and Jewish folklore, and composes Mazurka in A minor, called "The Jew". Chopin would revisit the countryside a few more times, always taking a keen interest in folk music.
Chopin's opus 1, Rondo in C minor, gets published.
Begins a study of composition with Jozef Elsner at Warsaw's School of Music, a division of the University of Warsaw. Three years later, in the final review for the Ministry, Elsner wrote: "Szopen Friderik - special aptitude, musical genius".
While in Vienna, Chopin plays two concerts at the Kärntnerthortheater. The Viennese newspapers write: "Mr Chopin has made our acquaintance as one of the finest pianists, full of gentleness and deepest emotion".
Composes Concerto in F minor op. 21. The Concerto is performed on 17th March during Chopin's first own concert at the National Theatre, with Karol Kurpiński conducting. Maurycy Mochnacki writes: "He is all devoted to the genius of music. He breathes it".
On the 11th of October Chopin plays his farewell concert before leaving Warsaw for Vienna and Paris. He was never again to return to Poland. The programme featured a new work, Piano Concerto in E minor op. 11. The press wrote called it "a work of a genius".
On the 2nd of November Chopin leaves Warsaw, seen off with Jozef Elsner's cantata Born in the Polish Land.
When the November Uprsing breaks out on the 29th of November, Chopin is in Vienna. Friends and relatives discourage him from returning to Poland, and Chopin writes: "Cursed be the moment of my departure".
The November Uprising collapses on the 8th of September. Chopin is in Stuttgart at the time, and it is there and then that the Etude in C minor op. 10 No. 12, (Revolutionary), is composed.
Later that month Chopin arrives in Paris.
At his first concert in Paris, in Salle Pleyel, Chopin plays the Concerto in F minor and Variations on the Aria "La ci darem la mano" from Mozart's Don Juan op. 2. The press writes about the "revival of piano music". In July the Variations on a Theme by Mozart were played in Leipzig by Clara Wieck, the famous pianist of the time and wife of Robert Schumann who, when commenting on the piece, said of Chopin: "Hats off, gentlemen, he is a genius."
In January Chopin joins the Polish Literary Society in exile, headed by Duke Adam Czartoryski.
On the 15th of December Chopin, Ferenc Liszt and Ferdinand Hiller play Bach's Concerto for three pianos at the Paris Conservatory. Chopin's performance is commented on enthusiastically by Hector Berlioz.
Chopin refuses to apply for passport at the Russian Embassy in Paris, choosing the status of a political exile. This means he will never see his country again.
On the 26th of April, accompanied by an orchestra, Chopin plays the Introduction and Polonaise Grande in E flat major op. 22 in the hall of the Conservatory. The concert is a tremendous success. In August Chopin meets with his parents in Karlsbad, where they arrived for a spa treatment.
In September in Dresden Chopin proposes to the seventeen-year-old Maria Wodzińska. His proposal is accepted on condition that during the trial year he changes his lifestyle in an effort to improve his health.
In October, at the Paris salon of Liszt's lover the Countess Maria d'Agoult, Chopin first meets George Sand, then thirty-two. Chopin's appraisal: "What an unpleasant woman".
The Wodziński family withdraws from the planned marriage of Chopin and Maria. Chopin writes "My misery" on a packet of Maria's letters.
In May Chopin gets to know George Sand better. In July Eugene Delacroix sketches their portrait. In October they leave for Mallorca, where their love affair blooms, in spite of illness. They will stay there until February of the following year, living, among other places, in the deserted monastery of the Carthusian brothers in Valldemosa. The humid, wintery conditions make Chopin's health deteriorate.
Chopin manages to compose one of his greatest masterpieces, the series of 24 Preludes.
Having left Mallorca, Chopin and George Sand spend the following three months in Marseilles. After a spell in Genoa, they leave for George Sand's property in Nohant in Central France. It is there that Chopin composes Sonata in B flat minor with Funeral March. Chopin studies Johann Sebastian Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier.
In October Chopin returns to Paris, keeping his affair with George Sand secret.
Together with George Sand, Chopin attends Adam Mickiewicz's lectures at College de France.
Summer in Nohant. Chopin will spend all his summers there until 1846.
Chopin's concert at Salle Pleyel gets enthusiastic reviews: "Chopin has reached his top form".
Meets his sister Ludwika and her husband in Paris, and spends time with them in Nohant.
First major misunderstandings emerge with George Sand and her son Maurice in Nohant.
In February Chopin and George Sand attend a Polish exile community ball at the royal Czartoryski mansion.
The last summer spent in Nohant, punctuated with violent conflicts. Chopin composes Nocturnes op. 62 and Mazurkas op. 63.
In George Sand's violent quarrel with daughter Solange, Chopin sides with the daughter.
On the 16th of February Chopin plays his last concert in Paris, in Salle Pleyel, to enthusiastic reviews.
The 4th of February is Chopin's last meeting with George Sand.
From April to November stays in England and Scotland, playing concerts and giving lessons.
On the 16th of November in London plays publicly for the last time.
Composes his last finished works: Waltz in A minor and Mazurka in G minor.
Sketches his last unfinished work, Mazurka in F minor.
On the 22nd of June, after two hemorrhages, Chopin is diagnosed with tuberculosis in its last stage.
On the 9th of August Chopin's sister Ludwika arrives in Paris with husband and daughter.
On the 15th of October Delfina Potocka sings for Chopin. The composers receives the last sacrament and asks for his heart to be buried in Poland.
On the 17th of October, at 2 a.m., Chopin dies.
On the18th of October, after a post-mortem, Chopin's embalmed corpse is laid in the crypt of St Magdalene's.
On the 30th of October a burial ceremony takes place at St Magdalene's, followed by burial at the Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Sister Ludwika takes Chopin's heart to Poland, where it is placed inside a pillar of the Holy Cross Church at Krakowskie Przedmieście Street. In 1880 an epitath sculpted by Leandro Marconi is unveiled in the church.
Also see: Chopin's "Piano Concertos"
For solo piano:Chamber works:For piano and orchestra:Songs:Timeline source: Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, March 2002.
- Allegro de concerto in A major op. 46 (1841)
- Ballads in G minor op. 23 (1835), F major op. 38 (1839), A flat major op. 47 (1841), F minor op. 52 (1842)
- Barcarolle in F sharp major op. 60 (1846)
- Berceuse (Lullaby) in D flat major op. 57 (1844)
- Bolero in C major op. 19 (before 1834)
- 3 Ecossaises op. 72 (1830)
- Etudes op. 10 (1829-32), op. 25 (before 1837), 3 Nouvelles Etudes (1839)
- Fantasy in F minor op. 49 (1841)
- Impromptus in A flat major op. 29 (before1837), F sharp major op. 36 (1839), G flat major op. 51 (1842), Fantasy Impromptu in C sharp minor op. 66 (ca. 1834)
- Mazurkas (1825-49)
- Nocturnes (1828-46)
- Polonaises (1817-42)
- 24 Preludes op. 28 (1831-39)
- Preludium Cis-moll op. 45 (1841)
- Rondos (1825-34)
- Scherzos in B flat minor op. 20 (1831-34), B minor op. 31 (1835-37), C sharp minor op. 39 (1839), E major op. 54 (1842)
- Sonatas in C minor op. 4 (1827/28), B minor op. 35 (1839), B flat minor op. 58 (1844)
- Tarantella in A flat major op. 43 (1841)
- Waltzes (1829-49)
- Variations (1824-38)
- Grand duo Concertant for piano and cello (1832/33)
- Introduction and Polonaise in C major op. 3 for piano and cello (1830)
- Sonata in G minor op. 65 for piano and cello (1846/47)
- Trio in G minor op. 8 for piano, violin and cello (1829)
- Andante Spianato and Polonaise in E flat major op. 22 (1830-36)
- Fantasy on Polish Themes in A major op. 13 (ca. 1829)
- Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor op. 11 (1830)
- Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor op. 21 (1829/30)
- Rondo a La Krakowiak in F major op. 14 (1828)
- Variations in B flat major op. 2 on Aria "La ci darem la mano" from Mozart's opera Don Juan (1827/28)
- 19 Songs op. 74 (1829-47)